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England outing fuels the international fire for Mitchell

Northampton Saints scrum-half Alex Mitchell admits the feeling of running out on the hallowed turf at Twickenham has left him hungry for more action in an England jersey.

The 22-year-old was one of three Saints that started for the England XV side that beat the Barbarians 51-43 on Sunday – with Paul Hill also coming off the bench, Phil Dowson acting as forwards coach, Lewis Ludlam the 24th man, and Taqele Naiyaravoro lining up on the opposite side to bring Northampton’s tally in the game to seven.

“Coming through the age groups, playing for an England senior side is something you always want to do.”

Alex Mitchell

Mitchell impressed in the No.9 jersey, with an intercept from opposite number Rhys Webb to set up a score for Alex Dombrandt and another assist for Marcus Smith’s try two clear highlights.

But the Saints starlet was quick to tip his cap to the whole England squad after they defied a far more experienced BaaBaas team packed full of star quality.

“It’s always a privilege to put on an England shirt, and that’s the first time I’ve been able to do it at Twickenham, so it was a great experience,” he said.

“Coming through the age groups, playing for an England senior side is something you always want to do – and even though it was an uncapped game the opportunity to pull on a white shirt at Twickenham just fuels the fire of wanting to achieve the success of going one step further and play for the top team at international level.

“We played well as a team on Sunday; it was a loose, see-sawing kind of game with high energy and a high tempo, but we knew it would be like that going into it.

“There was some chat out there, I saw on social media, that was writing us off in the match when the teams came out. So, with the team of superstars that they had, it was just a great way to round off the season by getting a win on Sunday.

“Obviously it was a great experience for me to be involved, winning at Twickenham isn’t something you experience too often so it was a good day.”

With only one week to prepare for the game following Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs, it was a quick turnaround for the Saints contingent.

Mitchell however believes the men in Black, Green and Gold were rewarded for their fine fettle at the back end of the season, and is confident that having so many Saintsmen in and around the young England squad bodes extremely well for the future.

He said: “I’d played with a few of the other lads before at Under-18s and Under-20s level, but equally I didn’t know a lot of guys before.

“We had a week to prepare, to learn all the moves, and it was a pretty sociable bunch so we had a big BBQ when we arrived and were going out for food in the evenings – we bonded well and that’s what showed on the pitch on Sunday.

“The Saints guys had obviously been focusing on the semi-final right up until the England XV squad was announced, and of course we were all incredibly disappointed after that.

“But just a day later we found out we would be involved with England, so it was a real mix of emotions; bittersweet I guess.

“Having so many guys involved absolutely shows how well Saints have done this year. We’ve got a few going out in Argentina at the moment with the Under-20s World Championship too so it’s really positive.

“For the future it shows how far we can actually go as a side with this talented young core of players.”