Hard work is paying off for Saints try hero Haywood

Take a look at Twitter and you will see a video of Mike Haywood's lion-like roar after last weekend's win at Bath was confirmed.

By Tom Vickers
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 6:08 pm
Mike Haywood is setting his sights on Harlequins

Haywood was a picture of passion as he celebrated his dramatic last-gasp try that delivered a stunning 36-31 comeback success at The Rec.

It was a special moment for everyone of a Saints persuasion as Chris Boyd's side kept their Gallagher Premiership play-off bid alive in the most spectacular fashion possible.

And Haywood sat down to reflect on it all this week after coming off the bench to help his team score four tries in a simply surreal final 15 minutes.

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"We went through quite a few phases before what was given as a knock-on so I just tried to play to the whistle and I managed to turn the ball over and score," Haywood said, looking back on his try.

"For me, it was more that we'd done all the hard work and we could have scored a simple try rather than going to the TMO, but we got the call and the rest is history.

"In training, we talk a lot about staying in the moment and playing to the whistle.

"I think Colesy (Alex Coles) made the tackle and I just followed him up like we would do normally.

"I didn't know whether the referee was going to blow the whistle because he was saying advantage to them, but luckily he checked it and saw (Semesa) Rokoduguni had kicked it out (of Juarno Augustus’s hands).

"I was just playing to the whistle like everyone else.

"It was amazing really and it comes from some really hard work behind the scenes.

"It's not been the best couple of years for me but it just shows that if you put in the hard work you start to get the results."

Haywood said he always believed Saints could come back from 31-12 down at Bath last weekend.

"The thing for us was that we said at 60 minutes they would start to go off the boil," the hooker explained.

"We went back to what we trained and nothing we did at the weekend was special or out of the ordinary from what we do in training.

"When Brandon (Nansen) went down we had 10 minutes to talk about what we were going to do and we spoke about how we would sharpen up our breakdown and defence.

"The next job was a scrum and we got the penalty, which meant it started the plan and everything we did was how we do it on the training paddock."

So does Haywood, who has racked up a huge 252 appearances for Saints, feel he is starting to get back to his best?

"Yeah, 100 per cent," he said.

"I feel I'm moving better and that was the biggest thing for me, that once I did my knee I didn't feel as athletic and couldn't move as well.

"But now I'm feeling a lot better, I'm starting to move better and show some footwork, which, for me not being one of the biggest players, is important.

"Also, the set piece is going well and I feel I'm getting back to where I want to be, pushing for that starting jersey."

The next mission for Saints is to see off the side above them in the Premiership standings on Friday night as third-placed Harlequins come calling at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

"We've got three games left and we can really focus on them," Haywood said.

"We've got a big break with no games after this week so that just enables us to really focus.

"Essentially it's knockout rugby and if you lose one game you could be out.

"It's in our hands and hopefully we can put in a performance on Friday against a Quins team that is very good.

"It's going to be two teams who are really good at attacking and who can put points on each other.

"They came back against Tigers last weekend so we know we've got to go for the whole 80 minutes.

"But games like the one at Bath are good and they get spirits up."