Saints stay has been a roller coaster ride for Proctor
Like so much of life in recent times, Matt Proctor’s spell at Saints has been far from what he envisaged when he arrived in Northampton from New Zealand in the summer of 2019.
The talented 28-year-old was a big-name recruit from Chris Boyd’s former club, the Hurricanes.
Proctor came in with a reputation of being one of the best defensive centres in the game, and he was known to attack a bit, too!
Saints fans were looking forward to watching a player who looked set to become a key figure in the club’s midfield for years to come.
But after a strong start during which supporters were able to see Proctor’s skills first-hand, the world was turned upside down.
The Covid-19 pandemic hit, shutting the door to fans at Franklin’s Gardens.
During that time, Proctor has been utilised far more in a role on the wing as the coaches seek defensive stability out wide while also trying to accomodate the emerging Fraser Dingwall and Rory Hutchinson at centre.
It has been a strange turn of events for Proctor, who has also been doing his best to adapt off the field having welcomed a new son into the world less than two years ago.
“To be honest, it’s been quite a roller coaster,” said Proctor, who has played 30 games for Saints so far.
“Obviously coming here at the start, it was awesome.
“As a team, we were winning, playing awesome rugby, the fans were awesome and then we got hit by Covid and had lockdown for however many months.
“It was quite tough not having family here.
“The performances weren’t really working onfield as well.
“We managed to climb our way out of that slump and things are slowly coming back now, with fans coming back and some kind of normality coming back to life.
“But, man, it’s been a roller coaster 12 months.”
Thankfully, Proctor and his partner were able to return to New Zealand just as the pandemic really started to take its toll, meaning he has not been totally starved of seeing family since arriving in England.
But still, it has undoubtedly been tough, not that the laid-back player has let it affect him too much.
“We shot back home at the start of it all not really knowing where it was going to take us or what was going to happen, but we took a leap of faith and went back to see some family,” said Proctor, who scored twice on his Premiership debut in a fine home win against Leicester Tigers back in November 2019.
“It actually worked out quite well but when we got back we went into another couple of lockdowns and it’s been tough, especially for my partner.
“I’ve got a little son and he’s two in a couple of months so it’s been tough.
“We had planned to come over and travel around Europe but obviously that hasn’t happened.
“It is what it is, everyone has been going through their own struggles and we can only control what we can control.
“It’s not the end of the world and it’s the same for everyone so I can’t sit here and complain.
“There are a bunch of other boys who are missing their family as well.
“It has been a very strange time but the better you can adapt, the better it is.”
So how has everything that has been happening off the field affected Proctor’s performances on it?
“When I started I felt like I was in good form but when we came back from Covid, the team wasn’t playing to its potential and it’s hard to have an influence on the game when you’re on the wing,” he said.
“I’ve played the majority of this season on the wing as well so I’m out of my usual position and it’s been about adapting to that.
“I think I prefer playing at 13 because I’ve played there longer and I’m a bit more comfortable there.
“But I want to be on the field and if that means I have to play on the wing, that’s what I’ll do. It’s all good.”