Saints will want more of the same from impressive Furbank
When George Furbank sits down with Saints boss Chris Boyd for an individual appraisal before the new season, you can predict what will be said.
While Boyd will demand improvement, as he will from every one of his players, he would surely be happy with more of the same from his talented young full-back.
Furbank was one of the stars of the season at Saints last season, eventually making the 15 shirt his own.
So good was his form that he forced Ahsee Tuala to move onto the wing.
But Furbank will face even more of a challenge this time round, with Harry Mallinder making good progress after suffering a serious knee injury at the start of the season.
The competition between Furbank, Tuala and Mallinder is sure to be fierce.
And Saints will desperately hope that they can all bring the best out of each other as the players set their sights on a strong showing at home and abroad this season.
“It’s a long season and ultimately we’ll sit down with the coaches to have one big aim but there are also those little goals throughout the season that you need to look to,” Furbank said.
“As an individual player, we know we’re sitting down in a few weeks with Chris to talk about our individual goals and hopefully we can achieve them.”
Injuries had hampered Furbank’s early progress as part of Saints’ senior squad, but he put all that behind him last season.
The 22-year-old racked up 18 games, with 17 of those starts, having only previously earned one first-team appearances.
Furbank was identified as a talent when Boyd arrived last summer, and the Huntingdon-born player did not disappoint.
His form helped Saints to secure a fourth-placed finish in the Gallagher Premiership and he loved the way Boyd got the men from Franklin’s Gardens to play.
“You could see Boydy’s influence massively in the style we play,” Furbank said.
“He brought it in straight away and it took a bit of time to click but you could see towards the end of the season that things did start to click and it allowed us to get the semi-final spot.
“Hopefully we can carry it on but we’ve always got a few work-ons to take through this season.
“I don’t think too much of the game plan is going to change and hopefully it carries us to the Premiership title this year.”
And he added: “It (Saints’ style of play) was very fun.
“The likes of (attack coach) Sam Vesty gives us the freedom to play what’s in front of us and we know we’re not just going to be kicking from inside our own 10 metres every time.
“If there’s an opportunity to run we’ll take it and like you saw we scored tries from our own five-metre line last season, and hopefully that’s the case this year.”
Saints won games against the likes of Exeter and Leicester last season as they continued to spring surprises.
But they also let a few games they were expected to win slip.
And Furbank said: “It’s throughout the season because we lost four of five games we really should of won.
“If you look at Newcastle at home and Sale away, it’s about finding ways to win those really tight games to allow us to close the gap between ourselves, Sarries and Exeter come the end of the season.
“The home semi-final is massive for us.”
Saints will start the new Gallagher Premiership season with a trip to champions Saracens on October 19.
Both teams will be without some of their international stars as the Allianz Park encounter takes place on World Cup quarter-final weekend.
“It’s always a tough challenge going there,” Furbank said.
“In the last few years we’ve not had the best time going there and hopefully that can change this year.
“They’ll have their World Cup boys away and hopefully that will make the challenge slightly easier, but we know they’ve got an awesome squad. It will be a tough challenge first up.”