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England cap and Premiership title were my goals, says delighted Smith

Fin Smith ticked off all of his pre-season targets on Saturday, as he added a Gallagher Premiership winners medal to his first England cap when Northampton Saints lifted their first league trophy since 2014. 

The 22-year-old fly-half’s drop goal in the 20th minute marked Northampton’s first points in the Final, with scores from Tommy Freeman and Ollie Sleightholme following before the interval. 

Smith would add another three points from the tee just after half-time, but watched on from the sidelines for the match’s final moments – waiting with baited breath alongside the thousands of Saints supporters in the stands to see if Alex Mitchell’s late score would be enough to earn Northampton their first Premiership title in a decade. 

“I think I did my first ever prayer,” Smith said. “Then I was like ‘we have lost, we have lost, we have lost it’. 

“When the lads stripped it at the end, I was trying not to cry, it was unbelievable. Alex Waller grabbed me, and he was pretty emotional. 

“To do that for those guys, for him, Courtney and Luds, to give them something to go out on was amazing, they deserve it. 

“This season, we have felt that given how we’ve been playing we deserved to win something.”

Fin Smith

“And even more so when [Bath] got a red card, we thought ‘right, we definitely should be winning something now’ – but I think we just got so nervous because we felt like we were expected to do it.

Smith continued: “Honestly, I don’t think we have been that bad all year. But with the experiences we have had all year, like playing Leinster away, we got there in the end. The best teams find a way to win when it is not looking good. 

“We probably took our foot off the gas [after the red card]. Courtney spoke and said ‘they are a team down to 14 and they have nothing to lose’. But we were pretty naïve to it, I think. We got there in the end but credit to them, I thought they were unbelievable and made us work ridiculously hard.”

Reflection is probably not at the forefront of Smith and his teammates’ minds quite yet, but in his first full season as a Saint – where the 22-year-old also won the Gallagher Player of the Month for January, earned a nomination for the Investec Player of the Year, and collected both the RPA‘s and the Club’s Players’ Player of the Season awards – Smith has relished the time he spent in Black, Green and Gold this term. 

“I have not really had time for any of it to sink in,” said Smith. “But I look back to what I have done in the last three seasons, I have never really been happy with what I have done on the pitch. 

“This is the first year I have been pleased at times with what I have done. I have worked incredibly hard; I gave myself a bit of a talking to at the end of last season and said ‘if you want to be this guy that is remembered for what you want to be remembered for, and do all the things you want to do, you are going to have to start working really hard’, and I have tried to do that. 

“I feel like I have grown a lot as person and as a player this year and I have loved it. It was a good way to finish it off,” Smith added of his first full season in Black, Green and Gold. 

“At Saints, we all have an individual development plan. At the start of this season, mine was win the league with Saints and get an England cap. I have now done both of those things. 

“When you play in these games, you hope you then put your hand up and get an opportunity. It is hard to think about now, I would love to play 10 for England this summer but being involved and winning [on Saturday] wasn’t a bad start.”

After a weekend of celebrations for the young fly-half, Smith’s attention turns quickly to international duty – he heads straight into England camp alongside fellow Saints Alex Coles, Fraser Dingwall, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Alex Mitchell and Ollie Sleightholme ahead of their upcoming tour of Japan and New Zealand. 

Smith added: “I spoke to Wiggy [Richard Wiggleworth], the attack coach, before heading into camp and given all the celebrations he sort of said ‘we are expecting you to be not in your best state on day one!’ But I am looking forward to linking up with those boys. It is going to be a great summer.”

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