Wilkins can't wait for cup action after making his Saints debut

Karl Wilkins can't wait for more Saints action after finally getting his first-team shot last weekend.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 7:00 am
The proud fathers pose with Karl Wilkins and Lewis Ludlam at the AJ Bell Stadium

The result wasn't what he dreamed of on his debut as the black, green and gold were beaten 30-6 by Sale Sharks in torrid conditions at the AJ Bell Stadium.

And Wilkins even had to go off with a blood injury during the second half to add to the anguish.

But nothing could spoil the feeling of finally running out as a Saints player, seven years after he left the Academy at the age of 18 to join Montferrand in France.

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And with his parents and girlfriend in attendance at Sale last weekend, it was an experience to savour.

"It was a really proud moment, especially for my dad because he did a lot of trips when I was here in the Academy, dropping me in Northampton once or twice a week," Wilkins said.

"It was good to be able to pull on the jersey for the first time in front of him."

It was also a nice moment for Lewis Ludlam and his father, Arron, as they have known Wilkins since he was a boy.

Ludlam and Wilkins grew up together, attending the same school as they both hail from Ipswich.

And they took time to pose for a photo with their respective dads after the game.

"It was a nice moment for them, more so for them because I don't think myself and Lewis could take it in as much," said Wilkins, who returned to Saints from ProD2 side Béziers during the summer.

"We used to car share together and our dads were on the sidelines at lower age rugby and they got on really well.

"We're both from the same town so our parents get on really well and that was a nice little throwback photo.

"Not much has changed!"

Now 25 years old, Wilkins will be one of the more senior members of the Saints team that takes to the field against London Irish in the Premiership Rugby Cup opener at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday afternoon.

And he said: "I think I'm the fourth or fifth oldest so it's a really exciting opportunity for everyone involved.

"We've been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, getting everyone first-team ready.

"Hopefully it will be a nice busy Franklin's Gardens for Saturday's game.

"It's a good chance to put on a Saints jersey for quite a few players.

"We're all looking forward to it."

Wilkins got himself first-team-ready by turning out for Bedford Blues in the Championship as he banned for pre-season at Saints.

But he is now up to speed and ready to showcase his ability.

"Obviously I finished last season with a red card so I got a three-game ban and didn't get to play any minutes in pre-season, meaning I started on the back foot a little bit," the back row forward explained.

"Our season finished in France in May so my first game at Bedford was nearly five months after my most recent game.

"I had a full 80 the week before the Sale game at Bedford and then I was straight back into it.

"I hadn't played a lot of rugby so it was good to be involved last weekend."