Collins ready to show what he's made of again for Saints

One week Tom Collins was scoring the winning try at the Dragons to book a quarter-final place, the next he was watching on as Saints were eliminated from the competition.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 7:00 am
Tom Collins scored the winning try against the Dragons a couple of weeks ago
Tom Collins scored the winning try against the Dragons a couple of weeks ago

The wing has very much sampled the ups and downs of modern rugby of late, being part of a deep Saints backline that lends itself to rotation.

No back has escaped as Chris Boyd keeps his side fresh for the run-in.

But after scoring that sensational breakaway effort at Rodney Parade, which completed a remarkable comeback from 39-24 down, Collins would have loved to have taken on Ulster.

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It wasn't to be as Saints eventually lost 35-27 to the men from Belfast at Franklin's Gardens last Saturday night.

But Collins is now setting his sights on the next challenge as his side gear up for a huge final seven games in the Gallagher Premiership.

The black, green and gold currently sit fifth, four points off fourth, ahead of Friday night's game against sixth-placed London Irish at the Gardens.

And Collins said: "These next couple of games (Saints go to Leicester next week) will have a huge impact on our season.

"After a deflating week losing to Ulster, the boys are pumped up and ready to make amends.

"We're fully focused on where we want to be at the end of the season and we're breaking it down into little blocks.

"This is our first block that can make or break our season so we need to push on and make it a good month for us."

And though he very much a team player, Collins is so keen to have a big personal impact on proceedings.

"The good thing is that as a squad we've got players in the back three who can start any game," Collins said.

"We've got players who can come in and make a start in the Prem, but it's just hard for the coaches to keep us all happy.

"Some of the boys have been champing at the bit, especially me - I've been trying my hardest to get back in the team.

"I've got my opportunity now, that's all I can ask from the coaches, and hopefully this weekend I can go out there and show what I'm made of."

How hard was it for Collins not to face Ulster after his heroics against the Dragons?

"It's tough, a very difficult situation, especially when you're a homegrown lad who wants to play every week," said the 26-year-old, who has racked up 105 Saints appearances so far.

"I wouldn't ever say it's hard to stay motivated because as a competitive person whenever you get knocked back, it pushes you on even more.

"But the lads are playing well at the minute - people like Sleights (Ollie Sleightholme) and Freemo (Tommy Freeman) have grabbed their opportunity.

"For me, it's about biding my time and every chance I get, I've got to try to take it.

"Hopefully on Friday I can go out there and show what I'm made of."

Collins feels a run of games would do him good.

"Playing week in, week out, you can see things from a mile off, you know where you're going and you're not clumsy," he said.

"It's hard coming back into the team because although you've been able to work on your fitness, it's not neccesarily match fitness.

"We could go all pre-season running up and down outside but then come into our first game and you can guarantee all of us would be absolutely blowing.

"It's difficult but I've been working hard off the pitch and so have other boys to get their opportunity.

"Hopefully this weekend we can push on as a team and get the win we want to get us where we want to be at the end of the season."

Collins has been hugely impressed with fellow Academy graduate Ollie Sleightholme, who is scoring tries for fun for Saints at the moment.

"He's played very well, he scores literally every week, which is what you want a winger to do," Collins said.

"Tommy Freemo and Sleights have been unbelievable for us since they've come in and they've taken their opportunities."

And how about a final reflection on that magical moment in Newport a couple of weeks ago...

"We were lucky to get that try in the dying moments but it works that way sometimes," said Collins, modestly.

"It was one of those tries where it looks easy to do and I was very thankful it didn't ping off over the stadium.

"What was going through my head was 'please don't volley this as hard as you can' and luckily it sat up and I managed to pop it down.

"I was screaming at Tayls (Henry Taylor) to kick it and luckily it just managed to get through.

"We were deflated a bit last week with the loss to Ulster because we thought it was a big opportunity to go and win some silverware.

"But we're fully focused on making the top four now, that's our aim and I hope we get there."