TOP BAR - Fixtures

Sion Bennett leading the back-row charge for Northampton Saints

Flankers are custom built for 7s rugby according to Northampton Saints’ Sion Bennett, and that is why he cannot wait to get stuck in to Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series action this Friday night.

Northampton welcome rivals Harlequins, Saracens, and Gloucester Rugby to Franklin’s Gardens, with two spots in the Singha 7s Series Final at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday August 7 up for grabs.

Bennett need look no further than Teimana Harrison for inspiration at Northampton – two years on from taking part in the Singha 7s, the New Zealand-born flanker earned his first cap for England earlier this summer.

And while Saints enjoy an embarrassment of riches in the back-row, particularly after the arrival of France international Louis Picamoles this summer, 22-year-old Bennett is hoping the 7s can be the stage where he makes his claim for a first-team debut this year.

“Back-rowers are the link between the forwards and the backs, so you’ve got to have the best of both worlds, and that can make flankers good for 7s rugby,” said Bennett.

“So hopefully I can go out there, do my best, and show what I’ve got.

“The competition is also a shop window for the coaches to see what they’ve got at the club, and there is of course massive competition in my position – Louis coming in has just added even more.

“I had some 7s experience when I was a little bit younger, both with Wales 7s and also with my college when we went to the Rosslyn Park tournament.

“But that was certainly when I was a lot lighter so I’m not sure how fit I’ll be compared to that, we’ll see I’m sure.

“I did the Bury St Edmunds 7s competition last year as well and hopefully we can tear it up this time for Northampton.”

A former Wales Under-20 international, Bennett made the switch across the border from Scarlets last summer and was a key member of the Wanderers squad that reached the Aviva A League final in 2016.

And having been embraced as one of their own by the Northampton faithful, Bennett wants to reward the fans that turn out on Friday with some fireworks.

"Our fans are awesome and I keep finding myself thinking about how exciting it is going to get being involved in this tournament at Franklin’s Gardens," he said.

"I feel like they have really taken me in here at Northampton, and on any day at home the atmosphere is really good so it should be a brilliant event to be involved in.

"Whether you are playing in the Wanderers' games, first team games, or memorial games, the fans here give you a lift and hopefully they can help us out.

"We’ll go into this competition really wanting to win it for the first time for Saints."

The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s continues on Friday at 7pm at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton with the Series Finals at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit premiershiprugby.com/singha7stickets

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