Northampton Saints will undoubtedly miss Luther Burrell while he’s on England duty but fellow centre Tom Stephenson sees an opportunity to make his mark on Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Stephenson has already made 13 appearances in all competitions this season but with international duo Burrell and George Pisi being the first-choice centre pairing, playing time has been more limited in the league.
However, that could soon change with Burrell currently occupied playing for the Red Rose – leaving Stephenson as the next logical option.
The 20-year-old was in a similar situation last year and went on to score tries in back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby matches.
He will be hoping to do similar in upcoming matches with London Irish and Bath Rugby and insists that the quality of players at Northampton make it a lot easier for him to impress when given the chance.
“When you’re playing with a team like Saints, one of the best in England, it’s a lot easier when stepping into the shirt because you’ve got class players all around you,” said Stephenson.
“Personally, I’m happy with the way it’s going but there’s still a lot of work to do on my personal game.
“With Luther being away on international duty, hopefully I can step into the 12 shirt and play like I did last year.
“Hopefully I can help the team keep our winning ways which is obviously the aim while the internationals are away.
“I’m looking forward to the next four weeks or so and I’m looking to get a few good performances under my belt to keep pushing on.”
Northampton lost 15-8 to Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in last year’s LV= Cup final but with this year’s showpiece being held at Franklin’s Gardens, Stephenson insists the squad are desperate to go one better.
“It was a good performance against Wasps but it was a bit of a strange one because it wasn’t in our hands,” he said.
“All we could do was win and luckily Leicester beat Cardiff as well.
“We lost out in Exeter last year and it was tough going down there but this year the final is at Franklin’s Gardens.
“So I think if we get there, then we are pretty confident because we’ve made the Gardens a bit of a fortress and we believe we can take on any team there.
“Northampton is a huge rugby town, so to have a big final here would be a great day.”
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