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Grayson missing the daily grind at Franklin’s Gardens

Alternating between garden cricket, exercising and binge-watching TV – life for many Gallagher Premiership Rugby players is pretty similar to everyone else’s at the moment.

With all rugby in England currently postponed and under constant review due to coronavirus, Northampton Saints fly-half James Grayson has been at home for a few weeks now – the regular cycle of analysis, group training and matchdays long gone.

Fortunately, Grayson has a Saints teammate and a better half to keep him company, while he’s also learning all about the management style of a certain Australian head coach.

“Me and Fraser Dingwall live together so we’ve got some exercises to be doing,” said Grayson. “Perhaps if the weather stays alright a little bit of garden cricket!

“We’ve got to keep that hand-eye co-ordination going haven’t we! It’s just the two of us but my girlfriend is here spending the isolation with us too.

“We all get individual plans and luckily mine and Fraser [Dingwall]’s are very similar as we’re looking to put on size and weight.”

James Grayson

“You come up with plans and stuff you’re going do each day, activities for when you can go out the house, but the boredom is starting to set in a little bit though.

“We’ve just started to watch The Test on Amazon about the Australian cricket team, from the sandpaper scandal all the way through to the World Cup and Ashes. 

“That’s keeping us relatively sane, it’s good, Justin Langer as the head coach is quite bullish and aggressive with his communication with the squad, some like it and some don’t so it’s interesting to see how they react to it!”

The break in sporting activity didn’t come at the perfect time for Northampton, whose most recent Gallagher Premiership Rugby result was a 16-10 win away at Worcester Warriors – arresting a run of four defeats.

The season so far has also been an important one for 21-year-old Grayson, who has started nine matches at fly-half and helped fire Northampton up to fourth spot.

Player development continues of course, whether there’s games or not, just with a few differences for forwards and backs.

“We’ve been home two to three weeks now,” Grayson continued. “We had a meeting as a squad back then and spoke about plans going forward, training in small groups, and then the next day literally it was announced that we weren’t allowed!

“So we were told to go home, rustle up as much gym kit as we could, weights for the backs and watt bikes for the bigger boys – for the big lads it’s quite easy for them to go away and get a bit chubby after a few months, isn’t it!

“We all get individual plans and luckily mine and Fraser’s are very similar as we’re looking to put on size and weight, so we’re largely doing the same weight programmes.

“It’s such an unknown situation for everyone, nobody knows what’s going to happen so we set our goals and targets to come back, you’ve just got to keep hand-eye skills and ball skills going to keep prepared.

“To that end there’s been some skills stuff happening on the computer, boys with tennis balls juggling, bouncing balls off the wall and stuff.

Sam Vesty (Saints’ attack coach) loves it, he’s got his kids in his front garden doing slip catching and stuff like that, I’m not sure if they want to do it but he’s making them!”

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