Woolstencroft aiming for more after stellar first year with Saracens
After enjoying his first taste of success with Saracens last season, hooker Tom Woolstencroft is champing at the bit for more.
The former London Irish man, who came through Bath’s academy, picked up a European Champions Cup, Gallagher Premiership Rugby and Premiership Rugby Shield medal in just his first year at the club as Saracens enjoyed a season of unrivalled triumph.
As well as that, the 24-year-old was an instrumental figure in Saracens’ run to the Premiership Rugby Cup final in a season of huge positivity which caught even himself off-guard.
“I loved my first year at Saracens, I ended up playing more than I thought I would,” he said.
“With the nature of internationals and a big contingent of our squad being away for those, there is a big responsibility on other members of the team to step up.
“I actually really embraced that and enjoyed taking the club through those blocks and we got some really good results. They were some of my best weeks playing in those games.
“I think I coped with the step up. I hadn’t played as many Premiership games the year before when I was at London Irish so I was apprehensive at first but after the first few games I felt confident and got up to speed.”
Woolstencroft was a constant figure as Saracens went unbeaten throughout the Premiership Rugby Cup campaign before falling at the final hurdle against Northampton Saints and the former England Under-20s star enjoyed the chance to show what he can do.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) August 28, 2019
He added: “I loved the Rugby Cup campaign. It was a massive opportunity for the younger lads and guys like myself who haven’t really played loads of top quality rugby to put a marker down and show the coaches what we’re all about.”
So how do you follow up on unprecedented success? It is a question that both Woolstencroft and the wider Saracens team will be asking themselves this year.
For Woolstencroft, who at 24 still has time to develop before he reaches his peak, it is all about establishing himself alongside the superstar internationals in the side and not dwelling too much on the challenge that lies ahead.
“In terms of where I’m at now, I still want to play as much as I can,” Woolstencroft said. “I’m 24, nearly 25 and for a hooker that’s still relatively young and I think there’s still a lot of improvement I can make to my name.
“I feel the more game time I can get, the more experience I can get, especially in the set piece area, that’s only going to help me.
“Once I get that I think I can really develop and push for those starting positions and push for more hopefully.
“This season I want to get the same game time as last year when I got lots. That’s the nature of it, once you get a taste for it you don’t want anything less.
“After last season I want to keep pushing. When the internationals come back my job is to really push them and back them better players and myself a better player.
“You look at the Sarries side and it’s basically an international side, if you can establish yourself in that sort of squad then you never know what will happen.
“It’s tough to maintain the success. It lingers at the back of your head a bit but, for all of us, we can’t get too carried away. Sometimes focusing too much on the bigger picture can hinder you a little bit.
“Once you’ve had a taste of success you want to replicate it but from our chats this season we need to keep focusing on improving.”