The 26-year-old scored in Russia’s 29-5 bowl final win over Japan last month in his hometown of Moscow, but will line up on opposite sides to many of his countrymen if the Saints come up against VVA Moscow Region and Kuban Krasnador at Twickenham this August.
It is set to be a busy month of 7s action for Artemyev, who was named in an experienced Northampton squad for the J.P Morgan Asset Management Premiership 7s Rugby Series and now for the World Club 7s at Twickenham.
And he can’t wait to get back into action and build on his success in the 7s format from earlier this summer.
“It was the first bit of rugby we’ve played this season, it was a good opportunity to run out here at the Gardens and play a bit of rugby,” said Artemyev, who has scored nine-tries in 31 games for the Saints.
“The World Cup 7s was in Moscow and it’s a very big step for Russian rugby in terms of hosting such a massive rugby tournament and hopefully it’s the first of many to come.
“The World Cup was a milestone, a step towards participation hopefully in the Olympics.
“There are still huge parts of Russia to be introduced to rugby and I think there are some positive steps being taken to introduce it into the school curriculum in some parts of Russia.
“I always enjoyed playing 7s although I consider myself a professional 15s player, but in my position on the wing they do tend to play some 7s and in Russia the national team mostly consists of 15 players who have to switch and play both codes.
“For me it’s always been fun and a good experience and when I was younger it was a good building step for me in terms of game intensity and game physicality.”
But Artemyev – who also touched down against Ireland in the 2011 Rugby World Cup – admits he won’t be holding back when it comes to competing against former his former comrades.
“I always like spending time with my old friends and I’ve known many of them from a young age because the Russian rugby community is quite small so it’s always good to play against them and it’s quite fun,” he added.
Meanwhile, having already seen off Chris Ashton at Franklin’s Gardens, Vasily Artemyev is unfazed by Lions wing George North’s arrival at Northampton, claiming it can help him get the best out of his own game.
Russian speedster Artemyev made a flying start to his Saints career with a hat-trick in the LV= Cup and two tries on his Premiership debut in 2011, outshining Ashton in his first season.
Last season started brightly enough and he started in the first seven matches of the Premiership campaign but just one replacement appearance followed with Ken Pisi and Jamie Elliott establishing themselves on the flanks.
Add into the mix the return of Paul Diggin to fitness and Artemyev has his work cut out to regain his place, even without the arrival of North, fresh from his two Test tries for the victorious British & Irish Lions.
And while the 26-year-old, who twice came up against North in the 2011-12 Heineken Cup, believes the Welsh wizard will have no problem adjusting to the cut and thrust of Premiership, he’s convinced no-one will be guaranteed a place in the Saints side.
“George [North] has had a great Lions tour and I have played against him before and he is a great player, an up and coming star and it will be very good to have him in our squad,” said Artemyev.
“And we have really healthy competition and it will push us all having good players around us.
“That helps to boost everyone and to motivate you to give your best in training and in games so all in all I expect an exciting season.
“He is a massive unit and is very fast and physical and quite skillful. He is a danger man and can always create something even out of virtually nothing so you can expect those things against him and playing with him that could give us an edge to our team.
“In general we have a lot of new faces this year and a lot of people have moved on and some have joined so it is important for the club to help the integration of those new guys and this is a really good place for people to join and come a part of a good club very quickly.”
North is not the only big name arrival at Franklin’s Gardens with Alex Corbisiero – so crucial to the Lions’ scrum in the decisive third Test – also relocating from London Irish.
But it’s their backline that makes the mouth water. North aside, Ben Foden showed he was back to his best in the Premiership final, Samoan scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i is an exciting addition, Ken and George Pisi will, as always, take some stopping and Stephen Myler made his England debut this summer.
The man charged with making that glamorous backline greater than the sum of its parts is Alex King, the former Wasps fly-half who arrives with a burgeoning reputation as one of the best young English coaches, having served as Clermont’s assistant in recent years.
And Artemyev admits he’s been impressed with what he’s seen so far – but believes the best is still to come.
“There have been some changes in the management department with Kingy [Alex King] coming here and he has got a lot of experience and a lot of things he wants to share and I only expect new things,” he added.
“We haven’t really done much rugby training per say as the first part of pre-season is more fitness and conditioning so there is not a lot played but he will get involved a lot more in the next few weeks.
“We have some friendlies coming up in August and I expect everyone to have a run out in those games and the next stage will be a very interesting time of the year.
“I expect a lot and it is good for the players to work with different coaches as they have different approaches and everyone brings something different. He is a very nice guy and I am really looking forward to working with him.”
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