To say Chris Boyd has played a big part in Matt Proctor’s career would be something of an understatement.
Proctor, the highly-rated All Blacks centre, arrived at Saints a couple of weeks ago and was reunited with a man who has helped to shape his career.
Boyd was not only Proctor’s boss with New Zealand Under-20s, but he also took charge of him at the Wellington Lions and the Hurricanes.
And now the pair are back together at Saints.
“I’ve had Boydy coaching me for five years back home at the Hurricanes and Lions,” Proctor explained.
“When he came here and I came out of contract, we got talking about it and here we are.
“I first had Boydy as my New Zealand Under-20s coach and he was my coach the following year in the Mitre 10 Cup with the Wellington Lions.
“He then became the Hurricanes coach two years after that so I’ve had him pretty much my whole career and I know him well.
“He’s an awesome coach, pretty laid-back and he lets the boys express themselves, which has been showing here.
“The boys have been playing some expansive rugby.
“I’d seen how the Saints played, knew Boydy so that was a tick in the box.
“Boydy kept in contact with me after I signed, asking how I was, if I needed help, places to stay, all the admin stuff and it’s been really helpful for me coming here.”
Proctor was on standby for New Zealand’s World Cup squad but was not needed in the end.
That meant he was finally able to make his move to Northampton, arriving at the start of this month.
He was handed his debut off the bench in the Champions Cup win against Lyon.
And he said: “It was awesome, just to get out of there and play my first game of footy in a while, be amongst it and feel like I’m doing something again.
“It’s been good so far here.
“Obviously it’s been in the back of my mind for some time now and just to arrive here and see the place, rub shoulders with the boys and coaches has been good.”
It was a case of one out one in at Proctor’s new home in Northamptonshire.
He explained: “I’m staying in Harlestone, I just took over the lease of Heinz (Heinrich Brüssow, who retired last month).
“I haven’t had too much of a chance to look around Northampton because when we leave here it’s 4pm and it’s dark so I just go home.
“What I’ve experienced so far has been good.”
Proctor is a versatile back, who Boyd rates as one of the best centres in the world.
But which shirt does the man himself prefer wearing?
“It’s probably 13 just because I’ve played it more and I’m comfortable there,” said the 27-year-old.
“But once the ball starts to get thrown around everyone’s pretty much positionless these days.
“As long as I’m on the field, I don’t mind.”
Proctor has taken a keen interest in life at Saints since hearing he would be moving to Franklin’s Gardens.
And he is already enjoying playing alongside a couple of the club’s key backs.
“Ever since I started talking to Boydy I was watching the competition more here,” he said.
“Rory Hutchinson has been playing well and also big T (Taqele Naiyaravoro) out on the wing.
“I played against him a few times in Super Rugby so I know he’s a formidable opponent.
“To be playing alongside him really is pretty cool for me.”