Burrell feeling stronger than ever for Saints' run-in
Luther Burrell is back - and the centre is '˜feeling stronger than ever'.
The 29-year-old revealed he is lifting weights like he was in his early 20s and believes his enforced lay-off has stood him in good stead for the Aviva Premiership run-in.
That will be music to the ears of those of a Saints persusasion, especially with the fixtures that now lie in wait.
Sixth-placed Saints are currently four points behind Bath, who occupy the final spot in the Premiership top four.
But Jim Mallinder’s men have a tricky set of fixtures still to negotiate, with Saturday’s east midlands derby against Leicester Tigers at Franklin’s Gardens followed by a game at Wasps, a clash with Saracens at Stadium MK, a trip to Exeter Chiefs and a final-day home match against Harlequins.
If they are going to make the top four this year, Saints will have to do it the hard way.
But the return of Burrell, who suffered an ankle injury in January, Tom Stephenson and JJ Hanrahan in last Friday’s 52-17 friendly win at Bedford Blues was a real boost.
And Burrell said: “I’ve been able to get myself into the best possible condition.
“When you’re playing week in, week out, it takes his toll, so while it’s not been great to be out of action, it’s allowed me to progress in other areas so that when I do come back, I’ll be feeling good, feeling powerful and that will help my confidence when I’m playing.”
Burrell will look to use his renewed power to tame the Tigers on Saturday.
He is typically nervy before games, but Burrell feels that with experience has come composure, and he hopes to show that this weekend.
And he said: “It’s going to be one hell of a battle.
“The lads have prepared so hard this week and it’s a sold out game so it’s going to be loud.
“In terms of my nerves, I think I’m more experienced now, I know how to adapt to the games and I know what it takes to win them.
“I naturally get nervous before any game and I think any professional sportsperson does because we want to win and it’s that competitive nature that makes you nervous.
“It’s going to be one of them where I think back to the semi-final a few years ago (2014) and to come through that game is another stepping stone.
“You come through those games and this is another huge one, but we’ve just got to see it as another one that we want to win.”
Saints have lost each of their past six meetings with Tigers.
Mallinder’s men have not beaten Leicester since a battling 23-19 success at the Gardens back in December 2014.
But just why have Saints struggled so much against their local rivals in recent times?
“I honestly don’t know,” said Burrell.
“When we went there earlier in the season, we put up a good fight and the lads did well.
“In that particular game (the league defeat in December), we left a lot of points out there, and it’s kind of been the story of our season.
“We’ve put teams under massive pressure and we’ve not managed to convert points.
“Towards the back end of the (Anglo-Welsh Cup game there in January, we put them under immense pressure and restored a little bit of pride, but it was a little bit too late.
“But it’s exciting to be back in the team now because we’ve got it all to play for in these next few weeks.”