There can’t be too many players with as relaxed an off-field attitude as Rory Hutchinson.
The Northampton Saints and Scotland centre prides himself on his laid-back approach to life, and that certainly shows in his attacking approach when he crosses the white line at Franklin’s Gardens.
Hutchinson boasts some of the most dazzling skills in Saints’ squad, continually finding the keys to unlock opposition defences. It has made him hot property in the Gallagher Premiership, but he won’t be going anywhere fast as he recently penned a contract extension at Saints.
It came as part of a raft of 19 renewals as the men in Black, Green and Gold made sure their most talented men remained part of Chris Boyd’s building project in Northampton.
For Hutchinson, the decision was a ‘no-brainer’ as he has been given the game time he needed to flourish since Boyd’s arrival.
He won a string of player of the month awards, was named Saints’ breakthrough player of the year for 2018/19 and got the Scotland call-ups he craved. He just missed out on the World Cup squad but did get back in the picture for the Six Nations.
So, is Hutchinson feeling any extra pressure now everyone expects him to deliver the stardust on a regular basis?
“I try not to think about it like that – I just literally turn up and do my own thing,” said the 24-year-old.
“If you put too much pressure on yourself, that’s when you get hard done by.”Rory Hutchinson
“I’m quite a relaxed person – a lot of people will tell you that at the Club – I’m happy just to turn up with my boots without a warm-up and just play.
“For me, it’s about just doing my own thing, being in a good mind-space and just being relaxed, because if you can be relaxed in this environment it’s a lot better.”
Hutchinson’s pressure-free approach brings dividends in attack as he showcases skills others would only dream of trying to deliver.
And he added: “I just want the ball in my hands and to put people through holes and stuff like that. It’s my bread and butter.
“I like to see myself as a distributor. We’ve got fly-halves like Dan [Biggar] and Jimmy [Grayson], but for me to be another option is good for the team.”
Hutchinson knows rugby is not all about what you can do in attack, and has the bit between his teeth to improve without the ball too.
“There’s always things to work on, but defensively I needed to bring my levels up,” he said.
“I needed to even up the scales a bit, and for me it’s about bringing that up to my attacking stuff.
“I needed to be more consistent in the tackle and more aggressive and I’ve worked really closely with [Saints defence coach] Ian Vass and also the coaches up at Scotland.
“I feel it’s been really good for me; I feel I’m progressing and hopefully I’ve evened up my game a bit more.”
Securing the Gallagher Premiership title this season would be a sensational next step on Hutchinson’s rapid journey to the top since he finally got his big break.
Back in January 2019, Hutchinson was still searching for his place in the first-team squad, but after recovering from injury and starring in a Challenge Cup clash with Timisoara Saracens, his career started to gather real speed.
He backed it up with a big performance against Leicester, and was soon named Premiership player of the month for February.
The superb showings and accolades continued and having been uncertain about his future, Hutchinson’s star had risen so much that he agreed a new contract with Saints in March last year, and the Club has refused to let him go ever since.
He penned another extension at the end of June and will continue to be a key cog in the Northampton wheel for years to come.
“We’re trying to build a squad and to get 19 people re-signing, it means we haven’t got that on our minds and we don’t have to worry about that,” said Hutchinson, who has notched 86 points in 57 appearances for Saints.
“We don’t have to think about contracts, we can really build and it takes a lot of weight off our shoulders.
“Contracts are a big thing and they come around about every year or two years so we know we’ve got a big core of our squad staying and it will be really good for us.
“We can get that chemistry right because there are a lot of us young boys playing well together, so hopefully we can still be here after the long-term deals.
“I’ve always been here so when I got the opportunity to stay, it was a no-brainer. I’m close to home as well and I can continue the journey.”Rory Hutchinson
Saints travel to Twickenham to face London Irish this weekend, with dry conditions forecast at the Stoop.
The summer rugby that beckons would seem to suit Hutchinson and so many of his team-mates down to the firm ground.
And the slick centre agrees; “Definitely. The forwards will be asked to do a bit more running, but it will be awesome to have a lot more running rugby.
“Hopefully it will be free-flowing and enjoyable to watch – and at Northampton we do enjoy that.
“For us to be playing in the summer, it will be really exciting stuff, and we are just focussed on delivering a performance we can be proud of against London Irish.”