Saints flanker Brüssow desperate to show his worth after frustrating year

Heinrich Brssow is aiming to make his mark during the second half of the season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Heinrich Brssow is aiming to make his mark during the second half of the season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

When Heinrich Brüssow arrived at Saints last January, it was hoped he would become the kind of talisman the club lost when Louis Picamoles departed during the previous summer.

But, fast forward a year, and frustration has been the buzzword for Brüssow.

The South African flanker has only managed to make 11 competitive appearances for Saints so far, with injury issues blighting his stay at Franklin's Gardens.

He has been desperate to deliver more than the fleeting glimpses of class that fans have witnessed so far.

But he has simply had to bide his time, with concussion keeping him out of action for much of this season.

"It's definitely been tough because especially with a head injury, it takes time," said Brüssow, who started Saints' opening three matches of the season but has only made three appearances as a replacement since.

"There's no clear date when you return - it's basically a day by day thing.

"You almost think you're back and then you get a bit of a setback so mentally it's a tough position to be in.

"But it's great to be back now, great to be back with the boys, great to be training in the gym and being part of the team again."

And Brüssow is now ready to really step things up during the second half of the season as he looks to repay the club and its supporters for their faith in him.

"In rugby it's always difficult because you're going to get injuries and it is frustrating," said the 32-year-old, who has 23 South Africa caps to his name.

"For me personally, I really came here to be a part of something special and Saints is a special team with a special environment.

"We've got special fans, the people are really passionate about each other and that really impresses quickly on to you.

"So it was difficult for me to be out and I put a lot of pressure on myself to be back.

"It's great to be back now and I'm really enjoying being part of the squad, especially with the boys having done so well, apart from in the Wasps game which we slipped up in."

Saints lost 27-16 at the Ricoh Arena last Sunday and they now face their toughest test of the season as they travel to take on Top 14 table-toppers Clermont Auvergne on Saturday night.

"This is the type of game you want to play when you come to Europe," said Brüssow, who joined Saints from from Japanese side NNT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

"Clermont are on top of their game, the fans are going to be behind them, it's going to be a full house, it's going to be loud, it's going to be special and it's going to be tough.

"All the boys are stoked about this and everybody wanted to be part of the team, saying 'yes, I really hope I'm playing' because everyone wants to be there.

"It's a big game, it's going to be really tough but these are the type of games we really want to push on in."

So how can Saints, who were steamrollered 41-20 by Clermont at Franklin's Gardens back in October, win in France?

"The thing with them is they're going to give you a few opportunities," Brüssow said.

"You're going to get a handful of chances and you need to turn them into tries so we've got to be clinical in what we do.

"But the main thing is that they're a big team so physically we're going to have to step up there, match that and from there on we need to tactically play really well.

"We have to really use our opportunities because there are not going to be many around."