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Williams targeting Northampton Saints front row spot

Variety may be the spice of life but Matt Williams is convinced that focusing his efforts on just one position will help his journey to the Northampton Saints first team.

Williams previously split his time between hooker and flanker but has been solely concentrating on the former in recent weeks.

With seven appearances to his name this term, four in the LV= Cup and three in Aviva Premiership Rugby, his full-time move to the front row appears to be paying dividends.

The 23-year-old first burst onto the scene in last season’s LV= Cup but his progress was hampered by a broken leg suffered on his Aviva Premiership Rugby debut against London Irish last April.

An intense summer of rehab followed but Williams is now back to his best once again and says the penny has also dropped with regards to his transition to hooker.

“It’s taken a while but I feel like over the past five weeks while some of the guys have been away on international duty I’ve learned so much,” said Williams, speaking at a Northampton Saints’ Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup event.

“The guys have been away playing for England but being back here I’ve learned so much being with the team and playing with the boys.

“My own development with my leg, after breaking it last year, has really come on a lot over the past few months.

“I’m now getting used to playing at hooker and feeling at home in that position. The last five weeks have cemented me in that position.

“I was tending to play back row and hooker but now I’m just playing hooker and it’s been a good experience to have that consistency.”

Six of Williams’ seven appearances this season have come since the calendar flipped to 2015 with a number of Saints players away on international duty.

The South African-born front-rower knows the path to a regular first-team spot won’t be obstacle-free with established stars such as Dylan Hartley and Mike Haywood currently ahead of him in the pecking order.

And while Williams is learning a lot from the likes of that duo, he has his sights set on cutting into their playing time in the long run.

“I’d like to get a bit more game time and just push the boys ahead of me,” added Williams.

“That won’t just help me, that will bring the best out of them. It’s a team effort and that’s why we are the best in the country – because we are constantly pushing each other.

“The guys in front of me are different players. They’ve got experience and when it comes to line-outs and set pieces they might be a bit more knowledgeable than me.

“But they help me and they teach me so I’m getting there.”

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