Saints flanker Harrison no longer a ‘headless chicken’

Teimana Harrison (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Teimana Harrison (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Teimana Harrison has come a long way since the days he was better known for his dreadlocks than his rugby.

Now, the New Zealand-born flanker is less wild warrior more soldier, having shed hair and the intemperate attitude.

Harrison, by his own admission and that of Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder, has grown up.

And he is now a man Saints can count on as a staple feature of their side, with the 23-year-old having been the club’s most consisently impressive player since early December.

“It’s been nice putting a few games together,” said Harrison, who has remained in the starting line-up since impressing at Bath on December 5. “You can actually find out how good you are.

“It’s been an awesome experience.

“I’m very much a confidence player so it’s good to get that belief under your belt and start playing well.

“It shows on the field and there’s just that incentive to improve every week.

“I’ve definitely been waiting for these games.

“I read something in the paper that Jim said. It seems I’ve matured a bit now and I’m not just running around like a headless chicken - I’m picking my battles.

“It’s nice to get the run of games and hopefully it carries on.”

These days, the only reminder of Harrison’s striking dreadlocks is his Twitter handle, @rasta_dreadlock.

And his buzz cut is a symbol of a boy who has become a man since being scouted by then Saints skipper Dylan Hartley during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Harrison, who made the transition from the Senior Academy to the first team in 2012, has also been helped by becoming a father - his daughter, Keita, is now two years old.

And he said: “Being a father has definitely helped me.

“I haven’t been around her that often because me and my partner split up so she’s over in New Zealand while I’m over here, which sucks. But I’ve got something to play for, my daughter.

“It definitely helps me.”

And on how his style of play has evolved, Harrison said: “Picking the battles is key in the Premiership, not going for every breakdown otherwise you just tire yourself out.

“I’ve learned that you’ve got to try not to make every tackle big and with your carries you try to pick the right people to carry into rather than just a brick wall.”

Now Harrison will look to help Saints deal with four games that will be key to achieving this season’s aims.

Glasgow Warriors will arrive at Franklin’s Gardens for a Champions Cup clash on Sunday, with Sains knowing they must win that match and the one at Scarlets six days later to stand a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

Premiership games against Wasps and Harlequins then await for Mallinder’s men, who are seven points adrift of the top-four after last weekend’s defeat at Leicester.

“We’re doing okay in Europe if we win both of the next two games,” said Harrison, who was this week named Saints’ player of the month for December.

“In the Prem, we’re sitting fifth behind Leicester and we can get there (in the top four) if the results go our way.

“It’s going to be exciting.”