England appearance was such a privilege for Saints scrum-half Mitchell

As pick-me-ups go, Alex Mitchell got quite a good one the day after Saints' Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-final defeat at Exeter Chiefs.

Friday, 7th June 2019, 1:11 am
Alex Mitchell impressed for England at Twickenham last weekend
Alex Mitchell impressed for England at Twickenham last weekend

That was when he found out he would be part of the England XV squad to prepare for the battle with the Barbarians at Twickenham.

And, fast forward eight days, Mitchell was able to pull the strings for the Red Rose as they secured a superb 51-43 victory under the guidance of former Saints boss Jim Mallinder.

The 22-year-old displayed all of the talent that earned him the young player of the year prize at Franklin's Gardens last season.

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And Mitchell got to do it all alongside Saints team-mates Ehren Painter, Teimana Harrison and Paul Hill, who also got game time at English rugby HQ earlier this month.

“I’d played with a few of the other lads before at Under-18s and Under-20s level, but equally I didn’t know a lot of guys before," Mitchell said.

“We had a week to prepare, to learn all the moves, and it was a pretty sociable bunch so we had a big BBQ when we arrived and were going out for food in the evenings – we bonded well and that’s what showed on the pitch on Sunday.

“The Saints guys had obviously been focusing on the semi-final right up until the England XV squad was announced, and of course we were all incredibly disappointed after that.

“But just a day later we found out we would be involved with England, so it was a real mix of emotions; bittersweet I guess.

“Having so many guys involved absolutely shows how well Saints have done this year.

"We’ve got a few players (Alex Coles, Ollie Sleightholme and Fraser Dingwall) in Argentina at the moment with the Under-20s World Championship too so it’s really positive.

“For the future it shows how far we can actually go as a side with this talented young core of players.”

With Phil Dowson acting as England's forwards coach, Lewis Ludlam on duty as a water-boy, having trained with the team all week, and Taqele Naiyaravoro featuring for the Barbarians, there was a real Saints feel to last Sunday's match at Twickenham.

And Mitchell loved every minute of it before eventually being forced off during the second half.

“It’s always a privilege to put on an England shirt, and that’s the first time I’ve been able to do it at Twickenham, so it was a great experience,” he said.

“Coming through the age groups, playing for an England senior side is something you always want to do – and even though it was an uncapped game the opportunity to pull on a white shirt at Twickenham just fuels the fire of wanting to achieve the success of going one step further and play for the top team at international level.

“We played well as a team; it was a loose, see-sawing kind of game with high energy and a high tempo, but we knew it would be like that going into it.

“There was some chat out there, I saw on social media, that was writing us off in the match when the teams came out. So, with the team of superstars that they had, it was just a great way to round off the season by getting a win.

“Obviously it was a great experience for me to be involved, winning at Twickenham isn’t something you experience too often so it was a good day.”