'It's going to be something special' - Saints star Ribbans ready for derby day

If Saints are to get the better of old foes Leicester Tigers on Saturday, you feel David Ribbans will be at the heart of it.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 7:00 am
David Ribbans

The lock has become one of the most important squad members at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens during the past couple of seasons.

And that has not gone unnoticed among Ribbans' team-mates, with the 26-year-old winning the players' player of the year prize in each of the previous two campaigns.

England may not have made him a key part of their group as yet, but the country's loss is the club's gain this autumn.

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And Ribbans is now raring to go ahead of a clash with unbeaten table-toppers Tigers at the Gardens this weekend.

"It's going to be a sell-out crowd on Saturday, the first East Midlands derby in a while with fans back and we're really excited," he said.

"There's a good buzz in the camp this week.

"This weekend is going to be something special.

"It's a top team coming here but when we get our game going we're a tough team to play against, so it's going to be a good game on Saturday.

"We're not going to struggle on the emotional energy front, that's for sure.

"It's just about getting our detail right, keeping a calm head in those tough situations because both teams will bring that energy and fire.

"We've got to get our detail right against a team like Leicester.

"We've got to bring that fire but keep disciplined, especially against a team like them and how they like to play.

"We've got to remain calm in what we do."

It was an unusual build-up to this season for Ribbans as he was unable to play in either of the friendly fixtures due to suspension.

He also missed the final game of the previous campaign, at Bath, due to the three-game ban given to him for a high tackle against Exeter Chiefs.

And that has meant Ribbans has been getting up to full speed in the heat of the Premiership battle.

"I didn't get any pre-season games and had a bit of stuttered training sessions due to injuries and illness," Ribbans said.

"It's been a bit of an on and off season for me so far and I've been a little bit disappointed.

"But I felt like I played okay (in the 66-10 win against Worcester Warriors) last Friday and it's just getting those performances together and backing them up.

"I'm training really hard and the more I play, the more consistency I'll get."

On the suspension, Ribbans added: "It came at a bit of a weird time and in some ways I didn't miss too many games because I couldn't play the last game of last season and then I missed the pre-season games.

"In some ways it was nice because I played a lot of rugby last year and Boydy (Saints boss) gave me a little more time to go home and have a rest.

"I felt it in that first game back against Gloucester and it was strange to have that suspension.

"I didn't want to let the boys down and that was what affected me the most because I felt like I was letting the team down.

"I've taken my punishment and hopefully I won't have another one of those."

Ribbans was not only named players' player of the year last season, but he was also the fans' choice, too.

And he said: "It was really big for me, pretty emotional.

"I've been here a couple of years now and I never thought I would get to that level where I was winning those awards.

"I've been voted player of the year by my peers two years in a row and it's really special to win those awards at a place like this."

Ribbans and Saints go into the Tigers clash this weekend on the back of four wins from five Premiership games so far this season.

And they will be desperate to take that unbeaten record away from their rivals.

"We're getting results that a year or two ago we wouldn't have got," Ribbans said.

"We're training really well and getting the rewards.

"Our luck ran out at Wasps and we didn't deserve to win that but this weekend we've got a massive opportunity and if we get our detail and process right we can cause them a lot of problems."