Updated: Sunday, 17th December 2017 @ 10:59am

'Seamless transition': Northampton's Mallinder on injury recovery as Saints seek final flourish

'Seamless transition': Northampton's Mallinder on injury recovery as Saints seek final flourish

| By Andrew Lawton

They face Wasps, Saracens, Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins in the final four weeks of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season but Harry Mallinder is convinced Northampton Saints can still finish their league campaign with a flourish.  

Saints are presently seventh in the Aviva Premiership Rugby, but with the teams around them bunched together they still harbour realistic ambitions of reaching the end-of-season play-offs.

And rather than feel anxious about their tough final run of fixtures, Mallinder is convinced facing the likes of top-two Wasps and Saracens late in the season offers an opportunity to make up ground on the top four.

Mallinder has personally experienced a frustrating season to-date, he was ruled out for three months following ankle surgery in November.

But after returning to action, the England U20 World Cup winner is desperate to end his season on a high by firing Northampton to a top-four finish.

“We’ve got a tough run-in but we’re looking forward to the challenges of those games,” said Mallinder. “We have targets and we’re hoping to achieve those goals.

“I think for me, having come back from injury, the big thing is looking to push on and improve my game

“Hopefully that’ll come by playing week-in-week-out against top players.

“There’s plenty for me to work on. Generally, it comes from playing, being put in different situations, playing with and against the best players and I’m learning more and more every week.

“No one likes to be injured but it’s one of those things and I’ve been back for a few weeks now and it’s great to be contributing to the team effort.

“It’s fairly difficult to get back up to speed but I think if you stay on top of your analysis and stuff away from the field it helps you and the team.

“And at the same time if you keep engaged and don’t distance yourself from the guys that are playing at the weekend it’s a seamless transition.”

“It’s great to be back involved and I’m delighted to be playing again.”

Mallinder was speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva #DriveSafer campaign alongside team-mates Stephen Myler and Ben Foden. 

As part of the campaign, Aviva and all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs are highlighting the dangers of dangerous driving caused by distractions, with a particular focus on the use of mobile phones.

And Mallinder explained he was proud to play his part in trying to help improve safety on the roads.

“Aviva are on a mission to make driving safer,” said Mallinder. “There’s no excuse for using your phone while driving and they’re making a big push to get people to download the Aviva Drive app and save them money on their car insurance.

“You’re better off pulling over and turning off your engine before you text or phone someone so there’s no excuse for it.”

Northampton will be busy in Aviva Premiership Rugby action over the next six weeks, while the likes of Franklins’ Gardens team-mates Tom Wood, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and George North are in RBS 6 Nations action.

Mallinder admits he is keenly watching on to see the progress of his team-mates on the international stage and singled out the impact England skipper Hartley has had on his career to-date. 

“Dylan is a great captain and player,” said Mallinder. “He’s been great to me since I’ve been a young boy supporting the club.

“I get on really well with him and he’s a great player and always gives his all. He has helped me tremendously in my career so far.”

Northampton Saints are proud to support Aviva, title sponsor of Premiership Rugby, on their #DriveSafer campaign and help raise awareness of dangerous driving. Download the Aviva Drive app to see how safe your driving is at www.aviva.co.uk/car-insurance/drive