Ambitious Mathews relishing first run out at Franklin’s Gardens
Northampton Saints fly-half Tommy Mathews admits he cannot wait for the Rugby World Cup to begin – but not for the conventional reason.
The 18-year-old believes the World Cup will offer many young players a rare chance of first-team action, deputising for those who are away in Japan on international duty.
He will get his first opportunity to stake a claim for the senior team this weekend as part of the young Saints squad selected for the season-opening Premiership Rugby 7s.
And Mathews, who will be making his first outing at Franklin’s Gardens, knows he has no time to waste as he bids to showcase what he can do in the fast and furious tournament.
“Players being away on international duty definitely does create a bit of an opportunity for players like myself,” he said.
“It gives us the chance to get a bit more game time and those of us that do play will hopefully fill in really well.
“All the boys are really looking forward to the Premiership Rugby 7s – we’ve all been training for it for a couple of months so it’s going to be a great opportunity for us.
“We’re all working hard so everyone’s deserving of a chance.
“I think all the boys are viewing it as a springboard to the league, and we’re all considering it a really good opportunity to get a run out on the pitch.
“Hopefully we can build on that – we’ve got a very diverse group of players here and hopefully the 7s can help us in the league.”
Mathews arrived at Franklin’s Gardens in the summer having come through the ranks at Gloucester Academy, after first being noticed by London Irish and then Hartpury College.
He represented the Cherry and Whites in the 2018 and 2019 Premiership Rugby Under-18s Academy League finals, while he also pulled on a Wales U18 jersey for the first time earlier this year.
While he is yet to make a first-team appearance for his new side, the two-day Premiership Rugby 7s competition will give Mathews and Co the chance to impress director of rugby Chris Boyd.
And with the precocious No.10 able to call on the likes of Wales and Saints star Dan Biggar for advice once he returns from Japan, Mathews has set himself lofty ambitions for the future.
“This season in the short-term I’m looking to try and build myself a reputation as a leader,” he added.
“But in the long-term it’s obviously my dream to be in the first-team here, so that’s what I want to achieve in the future.
“Since I’ve arrived from Gloucester in the summer all the lads have been really welcoming towards me.
“Players like Harry Mallinder have been great and helped me learn a lot – they’ve all been really supportive of me since I’ve come in.
“Dan Biggar’s been away with the Wales squad recently so I haven’t seen that much of him, but I’m really looking forward to him getting back so I can learn from him in the future as well.”