'Loads of capacity for us to grow', says Saints head coach Vesty

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During Saints' Investec Champions Cup semi-final clash with Leinster at Croke Park, the TNT Sports commentary team spoke to Sam Vesty.

The Saints head coach was sat on the steps of the stadium assessing the action as his side got off to a sluggish start in front of 82,300 supporters.

The black, green and gold struggled to get out of the blocks, conceding two early tries as mistakes opened the door for Leinster to take control.

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So when the cameras panned to Vesty, you may have expected him to have expressed a small level of concern as to what was unfolding on the field of play.

Sam Vesty (photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)Sam Vesty (photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Sam Vesty (photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

But there wasn’t even a flicker of panic.

Instead, Vesty looked calm and composed as he insisted his side would turn the tide.

And they did, threatening one of the greatest Champions Cup comebacks as they roared back to three points behind before their late efforts to snatch the victory fell agonisingly short.

Still, it was a sign of the belief the coaches have in the team, and the confidence the players have in themselves, that they were able to steady the ship in what could have been such a disconcerting environment against arguably Europe's best side.

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Saints went on to bounce back in style last weekend, booking a home play-off semi-final in the Gallagher Premiership thanks to a 90-0 demolition of Gloucester.

And, speaking this week, Vesty said: "We have a belief that when we get us on the pitch and do us really well, we're very much one of the best teams in Europe.

"There's a belief there and it's stood us in good stead.

"The frustration in that Leinster game is that we didn't quite do us quite as well as we could in that first 40 minutes.

"To be honest, things go wrong in rugby games, it happens all the time, and in every game, but you know this group are going to find their way back, nice and calmly, no panic. They find their way back to doing us as well as we can and with as much intent as we can.

"The tide will change."

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The confidence that is currently flooding through the corridors of cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens will be fantastic for fans to see.

But Vesty insists there is still so much more to come from this current Saints side, who will go to Bath on Saturday hoping to earn the win that will see them finish top of the Premiership table for the first time since 2015.

"I think we are good, but I still think there's loads of growth in us as well, which is really exciting, and I still think there's so much room for us to be better as individuals, as a backs unit, as a forwards unit and obviously then as a whole team as well," Vesty said.

"There's loads of capacity for us to grow.

"We've seen Fin (Smith) being nominated for European player of the year and that's good, but I don't really care about that. What I care about is watching him improve, trying to improve and then working out what he wants to get better at then find a way of doing it and then putting it on the pitch.

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"The culmination of that is an award nomination or whatever, but to watch the hard work that is behind that is a real privilege and that's what really floats my boat.

"Fin is one example but we've actually got a lot of lads in a similar boat."

With long-established leaders such as Alex Waller, Courtney Lawes and Lewis Ludlam leaving Saints this summer, the younger members of the squad will be asked to step up even further next season.

And Vesty sees no reason why those currently learning their trade at the Gardens can't do just that.

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He said: "It's quite a well-trodden path now so if you're a Will Glister, who is a year one winger, or a Toby Cousins, who is a year one winger, why wouldn't you think you could go and do what Ollie (Sleightholme) has done, what (George) Hendy has done, what Freemo (Tommy Freeman) has done?

"Why would you not think 'I'm just going to do what they do?', not in an arrogant way at all.

"It's not a question of 'can I?', it's a question of 'why won't I?' and that's a good place to come from.

"We do work really hard as a club to help players from the Academy to grow to be the best they can be because it's our business model and, more than that, we fricking love doing it."

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