Northampton Saints hooker Tom Cruse feels ‘energised’ for the challenge ahead after a lengthy preseason that followed his tumultuous 2022/23 campaign.
The 34-year-old hooker is set to pull on his boots for the first time in nearly 15 weeks on Saturday to captain the men in Black, Green and Gold in their first hit out against Bedford Blues.
Receiving the leadership role is another big stride for the experienced forward, who joined Phil Dowson’s squad as injury cover in January. It was his third club of the season after Wasps entered into administration in October 2022.
A five-game spell at Edinburgh followed before Saints came calling, and his performances across nine outings helped secure an extended deal for the 2023/24 season.
With the security of signing a new contract, Cruse is setting goals and looking forward to his first full season in the East Midlands.
“Stability is key,” said Cruse. “Certainly with a young family, it’s important to me that we know where we stand. I’ve got young kids, one of which is in school and the other two in nursery, and I have a wife at home as well.
“So, it’s important to us that we have that stability and security job wise. And obviously, knowing that I’m going to be a Saint all year as well just allows me to set some goals and get stuck in.
“Having five weeks away in the off-season gives you a bit of time to reflect and it’s been a really energising time for me. I’ve come into a fresh environment, with new voices, new coaches, new lads. I feel galvanised.”Tom Cruse
“I’m really enjoying my rugby, enjoying the group and the Club. So as soon as the contract extension was put on the table, I was keen to get it signed and obviously prolong my stay a bit longer.”
Cruse, who spent time outside of the top flight earlier in his career with Rotherham Titans, is looking forward to the short trip to Goldington Road on Saturday to face Championship opposition.
“It’s nice to have a pre-season week that’s got a game on the end of it,” he said. “Training is great and it serves a purpose, but that purpose is a game at the end of the week.
“Hopefully we can put a few things into practice that we’ve been working on and blow out a few cobwebs and just play with a smile on our face with no pressure.”
It’s a first chance for Cruse to impress this term in a position where Saints are well stocked, with England international Curtis Langdon joining the battle for the number two shirt this summer.
“It’s brilliant,” said Cruse on the Club’s calibre of hookers. “Sammy’s [Sam Matavesi] away now with Fiji, Robbie [Smith] was brilliant when I arrived last season, and Curtis [Langdon] has now joined the group as well.
“We are competitive in training with each other as we’ve all got our own goals, we all are representing the Club, so it certainly bodes well for Saints at hooker now.”Ton Cruse
Cruse, who started the Premiership semi-final defeat to Saracens in May, is looking forward to another strong season and building on those achievements.
“It’s a young group,” he explained. “It’s a group that experienced a semi-final last year. We’ll be better off for that experience and there’s a good mix of experience and youth.
“We’re obviously looking to improve on what we did last year, certainly for our performances to improve, and hopefully that puts us up and around in the mix at the end of the year.”