Sat on the sidelines and watching his teammates struggle, James Wilson didn’t enjoy the first half of this season – but he has already begun to make up for lost time.
After helping Saints to the Aviva Premiership Rugby title in 2014 and to the top of the regular-season table last time around, he suffered a significant injury setback in May.
In their play-off semi-final defeat to Saracens, the utility back broke his arm and following a problem in his recovery in October, Wilson didn’t play his first game of this Aviva Premiership Rugby season until January 29.
Since then, however, the 32-year-old has helped Northampton – who endured a slow start to the season – to victories over Harlequins and London Irish as they seek to reel in the league leaders.
“It has been a frustrating season, with my injury and watching how the boys have been going,” said Wilson. “Being back now, I’m very happy to be out there and running around.
“I’m very much a team man so I love when the boys win, whether I am involved or not. I feel the wins and the losses so it’s very frustrating when the boys go down, especially when I’m injured.”
Last weekend’s 35-7 victory over Irish was especially pleasing, as Wilson started on the wing and completed his first 80 minutes of the campaign while Northampton showed their clinical side with five tries.
He continued: “For us what was pleasing was the way we played – very precise and direct, which is something that we haven’t been consistent at for the last six months.
“We are playing some good rugby and with the accuracy coming back into our game, results will come.
“The way we have been playing in the last few weeks, we have been moving the ball and playing to space – the simple things – and we are getting rewards from that.”
And what has impressed Wilson perhaps more than anything else in recent weeks is teenager Harry Mallinder, who has taken to first-team action in impressive fashion at inside centre – not that he is surprised.
“Having the support of Luther (Burrell) on his outside has been nice,” he added. “He has taken huge steps with the way he has been playing in the last few months.
“He has been training with us and impressing for a while now – I was saying last season ‘let’s just get Harry in there’!”