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Sevens star Olowofela adapting to Saints challenge

Sevens star Olowofela adapting to Saints challenge

It’s been a challenging pre-season of adaptation for Northampton Saints winger Ryan Olowofela but the England Sevens star is beginning to find his feet.

Olowofela, who came through the Leicester Tigers Academy having joined at the age of 15, has made a name for himself on the World and European Sevens circuits, having made 64 career appearances and scored 25 tries in the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The 20-year-old was then signed by Chris Boyd in March ahead of the new campaign as part of the Saints’ continued efforts to transform their squad after an encouraging first season under a new-look coaching team last year.

“Settling into the club was a bit of a shock to start with,” Olowofela said.

“There was a lot more change of directions, bag hits, it’s been a lot more physical, but I seem to be coping – I wouldn’t say it’s easy though!

“I struggled with the set pieces, I’m still getting my head around those but I understand I’m not going to get it at the first attempt, it’ll take a while and the calls and the structure too.”

Northampton excelled in Boyd’s first season as they reached their first Gallagher Premiership Rugby semi-final since 2015 and won the Premiership Rugby Cup last year.

With the likes of Owen Franks and Matt Proctor now onboard for 2019/2020 too, confidence is high at Franklin’s Gardens and Olowofela is proud to be a part of the setup.

He added: “Off the back of last season, the club is really going in the right direction and to be a part of that is pretty special. The opportunity came up at the end of last season when I was at the sevens and it was hard to say no.

“Chris [Boyd] seems to know what the club needs and he’s pushing that forward and it’s clearly working. Everyone is on the same page so it’s good to be part of something like that.

“We need to start where we finished last year. We have to try and better ourselves and keep improving in all aspects of the game and then results will show.”

It has been a remarkably rapid journey for Olowofela since his Leicester days, one which surprises even himself.

At such a young age the winger has built up an incredible amount of international rugby experience which, even if it is sevens, he believes will give him an advantage when it comes to playing in the Premiership.

“I think having played sevens recently will help my ability to adapt. Playing sevens, you play six teams in a tournament and you have to have the ability to adapt from team to team in a short turnaround, you’ve got to be switched on.

“It’s been a crazy journey for me since joining the Leicester academy, a good rollercoaster ride. I feel like I’m going from strength to strength and taking every opportunity I can.

“It’s cool to be around world class players. All of them have been welcoming and I couldn’t really ask for much more. As soon as I was in the changing room they welcomed me with open arms.

“We’re all on the same page, I never felt like I was behind them at all and they didn’t judge me on what I did. I can’t wait to get going now.”

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