TOP BAR - Fixtures

Ken Pisi won’t take starting spot for granted

Ken Pisi returned from injury to make just his second Aviva Premiership Rugby start in two months last weekend but the Samoan winger knows his place in the Northampton Saints team is far from guaranteed.

Pisi was a key player for Northampton in each of his first three years at the club, featuring regularly as they lifted the Aviva Premiership Rugby trophy in 2014 and topped the regular-season table last time.

However, Saints have struggled to live up to their usual lofty standards this season and injuries have forced the 27-year-old to watch much of it from the treatment table.

He returned early last month at Harlequins, only to be forced off again at half-time, but Pisi completed 80 minutes on Saturday as Northampton beat Worcester Warriors 38-18, with one sensational break setting up Harry Mallinder for the opening try of the game.

But fellow winger Tom Collins was the hat-trick hero that day and Pisi admits he is just one of an army of competitors for a starting role.

“Tommy the flyer has been playing well and he has taken his opportunity,” he said. “You still have Jamie Elliott there, who has got an injury, and you have George North coming back.

“The competition is really good and it is just picking up our game. It felt like the Saints of old on Saturday, playing with a lot of space.

“It has been a while, so I was just enjoying it. I always enjoy playing in these colours and just getting out there and doing what I do best. Just trying to get back into the running of things was quite tough.

“We knew it wasn’t the best for the backs due to the conditions, but the backs are exciting now that the sun is coming out and the pitches are getting firmer and we just want to go out there and show what we’re made of.”

Victory over Worcester moved Northampton up to fifth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, just three points off the top four.

However, Saturday will be a real test of their rejuvenation as Saints travel to Allianz Park to face table-topping Saracens, the team who upset them in last year’s semi-final.

“We have had some good games against Sarries and it is not going to be an easy one – a win would be really good,” added Pisi.

“I think this time round we don’t have any pressure on us, last time we were top of the table and playing Sarries who were in fourth place. This time it is turned around and we’re just going out there and giving what we have with no pressure.

“They have showed signs of weakness, but knowing Sarries, every time they play Saints they up their level, so we’re going to bring the same.”

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