Saints lock Moon: I was overthinking my rugby way too much

"It's not about playing careless rugby, it's about caring a little less than I was doing."

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 7:00 am
Alex Moon on the charge against London Irish last weekend

Those are the words of Saints and England lock Alex Moon who has started to find form again.

Moon feels he was below par when rugby returned after last year's enforced break, which came about due to the pandemic.

But the 24-year-old believes he is beginning to get back to his best, and he knows why he has managed to return to an upward trajectory.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"I wasn't playing brilliantly after the Covid break and I had a few months where I was just overthinking my rugby way too much," Moon said.

"I was just going around the field and almost thinking myself out of things.

"I would go to do something but then think 'this could happen or that could happen so I'm just going to step back and do the safe play'.

"So for me it was about really trying to back my instinct on things.

"We played Leinster back in December in a European game and it's just got better and better since then, to the point where I played pretty well last weekend.

"We'll go again this weekend."

So how tough has it been for studious second row forward Moon to try to stop thinking so deeply about the game?

"It is tough to stop that overthinking," he said.

"It starts during the week for me really.

"I used to do so much analysis, so much film study and I would watch the same lineout five or six times over and I would be studying for hours and hours.

"I thought because I wasn't playing particularly well, that was my way out of it.

"I thought I would do more studying than everyone else, do more analysis than everyone else and it just wasn't the case that it helped because it clouded my thinking.

"I dialed it right back and I'm not saying I don't do anything, but I do everything that needs to be done and just don't overdo it.

"That's how I've tried to go about it and Dows (Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson) picked it up and made it pretty obvious that I was overthinking as I went around the rugby field.

"I knew something wasn't quite right but once he put words to it, I knew that was exactly it.

"I feel like I've come out the other side of it.

"I'm sure a lot of people go through something like that.

"Now I'm backing my instincts.

"I've been playing rugby for 17 or 18 years and if my instincts are telling me to do something, I'm best off doing that and trusting the guys around me that if I do something wrong, they've got me covered and got my back.

"It's not about playing careless rugby, it's about caring a little less than I was doing."

Moon's overriding thought this week is about how much he is looking forward to facing Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm massively excited," said the Saints Academy product.

"You don't remember a lot of training weeks but this is one you do.

"You get players like Woody (Tom Wood) and Alex Waller, who have been there, done it and played these guys for the last 10, 15 years so you hear stories.

"You've got Dows as well and those guys throw out little memories of times gone by.

"Some of us have experienced the highs and the lows of this derby so it's so memorable, the week building up to it.

"I remember every single Leicester game I've played in to date, almost every single play of it.

"They're so awesome to play in."

But Moon knows it is important, especially as a forward, not to get too emotional during derby week.

"In derby week it can be tough because you want to get each other really revved up but there have been so many times where boys have been yellow carded and red carded," he said.

"There have been times where lads have been red carded and we've still come through and won a game but it's really about trying to use your aggression in a smart way.

"It's got to be controlled aggression because you can't just go chasing stuff, go out of systems and try to solve something yourself because you just want to go and melt someone.

"It's about controlled aggression and that's the term for it."

Saints suffered a disappointing 28-24 defeat at Leicester back in September.

"We let them play their game really," Moon said.

"You think of times we've played really well and we've been able to put our game on them a little bit more.

"We had a Friday night game up there two years ago off the back of a shortened week and we hit the ground running and were able to put our game on them early and dictate things.

"Okay, we died off a little bit at the end but the game was in our hands from early on, whereas last time we played them they scored first, second and then they were on us.

"We were trying to nullify them and struggling to take momentum and up our own game so we've got to really grasp it."