Collins salutes Saints' 'game-changers'

Rory Hutchinson, Tom Collins, Cobus Reinach and Ollie Sleightholme in training
Rory Hutchinson, Tom Collins, Cobus Reinach and Ollie Sleightholme in training

Tom Collins is loving playing alongside Saints' 'game-changers'.

The speedy wing scored twice last weekend as his side carved Benetton apart at Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

Tom Collins scored twice for Saints in Italy last weekend

Tom Collins scored twice for Saints in Italy last weekend

Saints roared back from 25-8 down, scoring 24 unanswered points before needing a last-gasp Dan Biggar penalty to seal at crucial 35-32 Champions Cup success.

Collins, replacement full-back George Furbank and Rory Hutchinson, all products of the Saints Academy, were key to the victory.

And ahead of Saturday's huge Gallagher Premiership home game against local rivals Leicester Tigers, Collins said: "It's good to play with Hutch and Furbank because they're game-changers and they put you in space all of the time.

"Being on the wing with people like that is what you want.

"You want the ball in 15 metres of space and they give you that opportunity and it's good to play alongside.

"Having people like (Ollie) Sleightholme and Ryan (Olowofela), who was outstanding for the Wandies on Monday, is also really good. It keeps you on your toes and ups your game.

"The pace we've got at the moment is outstanding and we've got all different templates to put our game on the pitch.

"It's what makes us different and it's exciting, but we've got a big challenge this weekend against a good Leicester side here.

"Our fans will be backing us to win because of the start of the year Leicester have had, but they've got their England boys back and we'll have to keep any eye on them.

"I wouldn't say they're underdogs because it's going to be a tough game for us.

"We can't let our guard down.

"It's a huge game and I know the passion and emotion the fans have because I came through the system.

"It's exciting."

On his own showing in Treviso last Saturday, Collins said: "I enjoyed it a lot, it was just that the first half wasn't up to our standards.

"We probably underestimated how they were going to come out and play.

"They defended well, they're a strong team, good at home but we've got to take confidence from winning there because it isn't easy.

"We enjoyed the second half a lot and that's what we base our game on, getting the ball to spaces.

"In the first half we were slightly off the mark but we had a chat at half-time, we wanted to go and put our game on the pitch and we did that.

"We came out and luckily we got the win at the end.

"You know against French and Italian teams that they've got big packs so the big thing is to move them around, especially with our back line because the average weight of our back line is probably 90kg, maybe 100kg if you add in big T (Taqele Naiyaravoro).

"We've got quite a small back line so we want to move the ball and we did put that game plan on the pitch in the second half last weekend."

Saints said goodbye to defence coach Alan Dickens earlier this week as he took up a role as England Under-20s head coach.

Collins knows Dickens well, and has nothing but praise for his former mentor.

"He's been really good," said Collins, who has scored four tries in nine appearances this season.

"He was Academy manager when I was coming through the system and he's helped me a lot.

"He's helped me to transfer things into the first team and taken me aside to explain everything.

"He's been really good for me and he's also a great character off the pitch.

"He's a lovely guy and he's done a great job here, winning a lot of trophies and it just speaks for itself.

"I wish him all the luck and I can only thank him for what he's done for me."