Luther Burrell has started all six Saints games in 2013/14 © Getty Images
Rugby News Burrell credits Saints for England progression
He may have been included in the England EPS announced earlier today, but Luther Burrell was keen to stress the part the Saints have played in the past 18 months to boost his international chances this autumn.
The centre joined the club in the summer of 2012 and enjoyed an impressive first season at the Gardens, making the 12 shirt his own by scoring eight tries in 20 appearances – including a starting berth in the Aviva Premiership final in May.
And that form was carried into 2013/14, too, with Burrell starting all six Saints games so far, named man of the match in the win at Harlequins and shortlisted for both the Aviva Premiership and Steffans Player of the Month awards.
He acknowledged that it was his club form that put him in the Test frame, leading to a tour of Argentina and his latest call up from England head coach Stuart Lancaster.
“It’s been a whirlwind and I’m so grateful for what Northampton and the coaching staff have done for me,” he told SaintsTV. “Jim Mallinder is a fantastic bloke and has been really good with me, speaking on a one-to-one basis and being positive about my progression to get me to where I am now.
“I’ve worked hard on the training ground with all the coaches – Alan Dickens defensively has been brilliant and with Alex King also coming in he has been fantastic with me and all of the other players. I’m still learning and there’s a lot of rugby left in me yet.”
Reflecting on his call-up Burrell added that the next few weeks could be crucial as he looks to make his inclusion as an injury replacement a permanent one, with Twickenham Tests lined up against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and I’m absolutely chuffed. To be part of a squad including the best players in the country, and with the potential to be playing in the autumn, is something that I’ve always dreamt of doing.
“Hopefully now I can put a marker down in these next couple of games and really try and push for a chance in one of the Tests. I think my form has been pretty consistent throughout the start of this season and within the Heineken Cup games I think that’s as close to a Test match as you’re going to get.
“Yesterday I was quite nervous but I found out in the evening, Stuart rang me and I had a good natter with him. He said now it’s all about my consistency of performance. I’ve wanted to taste more of that experience since the summer tour and I’m thankful that I’ve managed to have a good start with the Saints and get myself back in the mix.
“It’s now about showing Stuart why I should be involved.”
Yet while Burrell is one of seven Saints in England’s EPS, not forgetting numerous other players who could be involved with the likes of Wales, Samoa and USA, the 25-year-old isn’t too worried about how his club will cope should he, or any number of the squad be unavailable over the autumn.
“We’ve got a fantastic squad now, haven’t we?” Burrell added. “There’s always competition for places and with players being away comes the opportunity for lads to step up and try and show why they should be starting.
“I was in that position last season and it will be tough. No one wants to come back from international duty and not have that starting spot so if I am away I know I’ve got to still play well but if I’m not, then all my commitment will be with the Saints and keeping that starting spot.”