Saints youngster Harry happy to keep learning

'We'd be here all day if we spoke about them,' says Harry Mallinder, smiling as he answers a question about the areas of his game he needs to work on to become a top player.

Saturday, 10th June 2017, 8:00 am
Harry Mallinder stepped up for Saints last season

Mallinder may have jetted off on England’s tour of Argentina, but there is no way the young back, who turns 21 on June 13, will be letting his feet leave the ground.

He has clearly inherited his father’s unflappable approach, with Harry’s dad Jim the boss at Saints.

And with your old man in charge of the team, there is no way you will be allowed to step out of line.

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Mallinder junior has dealt with all the jibes from players about his dad being the boss, and he is probably stronger for that sort of banter.

What has also toughened him up is so much exposure to top level rugby at such a young age.

Since making his first-team debut in an Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Newcastle in November, 2014, the talented Academy graduate has gone on to make a further 41 appearances.

He has played in numerous positions, most recently being handed the keys to No.10, stepping up in the absence of senior fly-halves Stephen Myler and JJ Hanrahan.

And how well Mallinder did, starring in the final game of the season as Saints superbly claimed a 23-22 victory against Stade Français.

That win ensures Mallinder and his team-mates will be playing top-level European rugby again next season, giving the youngster more big matches in which to hone his talents.

And that will undoubtedly be something that appeals to a studious and extremely mature player.

“This season has been a huge learning curve,” said Mallinder, who made 25 appearances during the 2016/17 season and was named young player of the year for the second time in succession.

“The 2015/16 season was my breakthrough year and I was playing here and there.

“I got a couple of starts but when it comes to your second season, playing regularly, starting most weeks, you really do learn a lot about the game.

“The big thing for me is, while enjoying it and doing some good bits, I’m learning on the job, every week.

“I’m learning from the guys at the club, from different tests you come across.

“Every week is against some world class players and it’s exciting for me because I’m pushing myself against the best.

“I know personally that I’m doing my bits to get better for the weekends and daily improvement is at the forefront of my mind.

“None of us are finished articles. We want to be the best players we can be.”

Mallinder’s ability to adapt so quickly to life at the top level not only comes from the skill he possesses but also the structure.

He is built extremely well for a back and even at the age of 18, he dwarfed many senior players, and reporters!

But he knows that while he does have many of the natural qualities needed to succeed, there are still strings he must add to his bow.

“Whether it be positioning, playing with different personnel, game management - in every aspect of the game, there’s room for improvement with me,” he said, modestly.

“I’m doing everything I can.”

Mallinder has predominantly been picked at inside centre for Saints.

But he skippered the England Under-20s to World Championship glory from fly-half last summer and

he can also be a handy full-back.

“I always have played multiple positions and at different points of the season I’ve been used in different areas,” Mallinder said.

“I don’t have a preference where I play - I play where I’m picked, but it’s nice having those different tests and different opportunities those different positions give you.”