Stephenson: Stand-in players desperate to make sure Saints stay top dogs

Saints centre Tom Stephenson
Saints centre Tom Stephenson

Tom Stephenson says Saints stand-in stars are desperate to ensure the club stay at the Aviva Premiership summit.

And the centre is relishing the chance to get back in league action when London Irish come to town on Friday night.

With Luther Burrell starting for England against Italy on Saturday, Stephenson will fill the Saints 12 shirt at Franklin’s Gardens.

And the 20-year-old wants to help his side earn a victory that would widen the gap between them and Bath, who are currently a point adrift in second.

“It’s been four weeks since we played in the Premiership now and it will be good to get back in the swing of things,” said Stephenson.

“We’ve got Irish this week and Bath next Saturday so it’s about keeping our top spot while the internationals are away.

“It’s a big role for us boys who are stepping in.

“As the season has gone by, Franklin’s Gardens has been a fortress for us and we want to get a home play-off semi-final.

“We’d definitely back ourselves against anyone at home.”

Stephenson already has 10 starts under his belt this season and is pushing on in pursuit of a regular place in the first 15.

He was full of praise for Burrell’s performance in the Six Nations opening night win in Wales last Friday and hopes his club-mate continues to be successful on the international stage.

“Luther’s playing well for England and that gives me a chance to step in for Saints,” said Stephenson.

“Luther did really well last Friday and it was really impressive.

“I look up to him and George (Pisi) but I want to push on and overtake them.

“Hopefully Luther will be playing the whole of the Six Nations, which will mean more games for me.”