Huge confidence boost for Hendy as he earns the trust of Saints coaches

George Hendy says the chance he was given at Sale Sharks on the opening day of the league season was a 'massive confidence booster'.
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And the talented 21-year-old is now determined to kick on after being given his shot at Saints.

Hendy was in the first 15 against the Sharks and delivered a strong showing in the 20-15 Gallagher Premiership defeat.

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It was only a third league start for the back, who was unfortunate to miss the following week's game against Bristol Bears due to injury, having initially been named in the team.

George Hendy (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)George Hendy (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
George Hendy (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

He returned to action on the wing in the following week's win at Newcastle Falcons, and kept his place against Bath.

He will now start at full-back against Exeter Chiefs on Sunday, meaning he will have been due to start all of Saints' first five league games.

And Hendy says the opportunity that he was afforded at Sale gave him the shot in the arm he needed to take his chance at Saints.

"I’ve been loving it," he said.

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"I was fortunate to get the opportunity at the start the season and I’m just happy that I have been able to play well and the coaches have been happy with the way I’ve been progressing on the pitch.

"I’ve been lucky to put games together really and hopefully go again this weekend.

"It (being selected at Sale) was a massive confidence boost. It’s something I’ve been looking into a lot recently, just backing yourself.

"It gave me a lot of confidence and self-belief, and hopefully I can keep on putting my best foot forward.

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"All exposure is good exposure. Even if the day doesn’t go well, there’s loads of learnings to take from it.

"I am really looking forward to just improving this season and trying to put together as many Prem games as I can."

Hendy has scored four tries in eight appearances in all competitions so far this season, and his effort against Bath last time out proved to be decisive in a 24-18 success.

"It’s always nice to cross the line," he said.

"It’s not really in the forefront of your mind every game.

"I think at the moment, it’s about trying to play the best I can and keep improving as a player and putting the team in the best position possible to win those games.

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"We fell short in the first two games this season which was gutting for everyone. So I think we’ve all been working really hard and ironing out how we can win those close games.

"I think the last two weeks have showed that."

Hendy has looked up to the likes of Fraser Dingwall, Tommy Freeman and George Furbank, who have all progressed from the Saints Academy to make a first-team shirt their own.

"Freemo and I were just having a chat the other morning and I am in my third year and he is in his fifth or sixth, so he’s been coming through quite quickly," Hendy said.

"Looking at where he is now, it’s a really good marker.

"And the likes of Furbank, Dingwall and all the lads who have come through the pathway just like I have at the moment - looking at them is really inspirational. It’s kind of where you want to end up."

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Hendy has learned a lot about top-level mentality from those players and the other members of Saints' squad.

"It’s a massive shift up," he said. "The standard that we train at is pretty high, so every day feels tough and it feels like you’re getting better every session with the likes of some of the players you’re playing with and training with every day.

"But also, they help you out just as much as you help them on a matchday.

"It’s been really good learning from the other lads and having them look out for me just as they can now hopefully trust that I can do the same for them."

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Hendy, like many of the Saints players, has bulked up during the summer.

"That was a massive focus for me this pre-season," he said.

"Growing up, I always felt confident with ball in hand and making good decisions but there was a big focus for me off pitch, how I can improve my rugby game off the field.

"So not just working on the attack and defence, but it was how much bigger can I get.

"The S&C staff have been really good this season, especially during pre-season when I put on four or five kilos myself. It has been good."

But Hendy has not let the extra weight affect his speed.

"Definitely not," he said.

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"They promised I would not lose my speed if I put on an extra bit of weight. They told me it will just help me around the park a bit more, especially with the collision side of the game. It’s becoming more important than it ever has before.

"I found myself able to be a bit more dominant with my ball carry due to my size and just getting a bit bigger.

"Hopefully I am still as quick as I used to be!"

Hendy was really helped on his journey by playing on a dual-registration deal at Bedford Blues in the Championship.

And he said: "Bedford was massive. There’s a really good group of lads down there who play a similar brand of rugby to Northampton.

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"Last year I think I played 10 or so games for Bedford. It was really good exposure in the Champ.

"This season I’ve been lucky enough to get a few Premiership opportunities and hopefully I don’t look back and keep going forward and see what happens."

Next up for Hendy and Saints is a tough test at home to high-flying Exeter Chiefs at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday afternoon.

"It will be a big challenge," Hendy said. "They are a big physical team. They pride themselves on that.

"They’ve absolutely pumped a few teams this season.

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"Hopefully we will be looking to bring that physicality that’s been growing since the start of this season and actually make other teams look at how physical we are and not just how dangerous we are with ball in hand."

Also in the Saints team on Sunday will be Angus Scott-Young, Hendy's housemate.

"I was looking for somewhere to live and I was really struggling," Hendy explained. "Then Angus had a room open up in his house at the end of last season with one of the lads leaving.

"He just messaged me saying ‘are you still looking, if so you can jump in with me’.

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"So I jumped in with him, and it’s been quite good to be fair.

"It’s been quite nice having lived with lads my own age the past two years, whereas it’s quite a nice change-up now with him being 26.

"He can work on his cooking skills though, he’s pretty basic at that."

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