Teimana Harrison insists the strength in depth in Northampton Saints’ back row has pushed everybody to be better this season – including standard-bearer Louis Picamoles.
Picamoles, a veteran France international, has been a revelation since joining from Top 14 side Toulouse last summer, helping Northampton overcome a slow start and push for a top-four spot in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
The Saints boast one of the best back rows in the league, with Harrison’s fellow England international Tom Wood, along with the likes of Sion Bennett and Calum Clark scrapping for places.
And Harrison insists competition is pushing everyone to improve, with Picamoles leading by example.
“You have got four international players fighting in that back row. And then the younger guys are pushing through and they are hungry, they want to prove a point,” he said.
“They are amazing so anybody could play. It is good competition so everyone is pushing hard and trying to make the team better.
😇 Your Saints are… pic.twitter.com/DUgzPEEtPm
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) April 7, 2017
“Everyone is always improving. You pick up small bits from training from the quality there. For myself, just playing with Louis and watching him play you always get a few good tips, so I am progressing my game.
“He is a really nice guy, putting his hand up and making an effort on and off the pitch. You can see the impact he has made, he is just a monster. He is really wicked.”
Northampton face a daunting task this weekend as they tackle Aviva Premiership Rugby leaders Wasps, who will be looking to bounce back from their European Champions Cup quarter-final exit to Leinster last weekend.
Northampton are also looking to bounce back after they fell to a 36-31 defeat at home to rivals Leicester Tigers two weeks ago, and Harrison expects an intense battle at the Ricoh Arena.
“They will be fired up after the loss to Leinster. They want to stay top and it is another Midlands battle so it should be a good game,” he said.
“No matter what the game is they will be pumped up, especially with this being a good rivalry. They are aiming to get a home semi-final so it will be a massive game for both of us because we are fighting to stay in the top six.
“The top four is not far away and I think if we win all of our games we have a good chance of making it. Our main goal is to stay in the Champions Cup.
“We want to be up there with the big boys so a top-six finish is crucial. We want to get out there and win games. We have come close recently but have let it slipped too often.”
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) April 5, 2017
Victory in all their remaining games would make Northampton major contenders for a semi-final berth, which would put them just one game away from a date at Twickenham.
And Harrison believes they are not far away from becoming final material, insisting they only need to make a few minor adjustments to their game.
“It would be amazing to get to the final. I don’t think many of our squad have got there before. Obviously, we were there three years ago and it will be awesome to get back,” he said.
“We just need to fix a few minor defensive errors and we should be ready to rock. A few defensive errors are in our system so we need to get rid of them.
“We can’t get too carried away and stay connected. It is all about small stuff like that. This late in the season, there are not many big things you can change – it is all small improvements.”
Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.