The start of the new Gallagher Premiership season may still be a few months away, but incoming Northampton Saints hooker Curtis Langdon admits he’s already full of anticipation to return to league action with the men in Black, Green and Gold.
The 6’1”, 107kg front rower signed on at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for the 2023/24 season onwards earlier this year, arriving in Northampton from Montpellier Hérault.
It has been a challenging journey over the last 12 months for Langdon, having crossed the channel to link up with the Top 14 side earlier this season after his former side Worcester Warriors were placed into administration.
But having touched down in the UK following the conclusion of Montpellier’s season, the two-cap England hooker is already looking forward to putting his hand up for Saints next term – and hopefully fighting his way back into international contention as well.
“I’ve grown up watching the Premiership, always paid attention to what was going on while I was at school, and always wanted to play in this league,” he said.
“So, I’m really excited to return to England to play for Saints. Even over in France I was still watching most weekends, following Northampton and seeing how they were getting on before I arrived.
“Obviously, staying over in France also would have meant that I wouldn’t have been able to get picked by England again, and getting back in that team remains a big goal of mine.
“But I know that first and foremost I need to focus on my performances here at Saints, playing really well for Northampton, and trying to help the team go even further than they did this season just gone and win the league.
“There’s a good group of young, English players here who I am looking forward to playing with, and the brand of rugby that Northampton play I think is really going to suit me. I’m really excited to get involved.”Curtis Langdon
Before joining Worcester, Langdon previously enjoyed a six-year stint in the Gallagher Premiership with Sale Sharks, where he scored 14 tries in 89 appearances following a switch from London Irish’s academy set-up.
He helped the Sharks qualify for the Premiership’s play-offs in 2021, and while the hooker is excited to be challenging towards the top of the table on a regular basis again with Northampton, it was the approach of the Club’s coaches that really convinced him to join Saints.
He said: “The way Phil Dowson and his coaching team see the game and want to play, and the way they see me fitting into the system here in Northampton, was what really sold the Club to me.
“I sat down with Phil initially, and the way he spoke about my game – my strengths and areas he wants me to work on – it was clear that the Club’s coaches were going to do everything they could to help me develop as a player, and get to where I want to be and where they want me to be.”Curtis Langdon
While he made his senior international debut during the summer of 2021 with two Test appearances against the USA and Canada, Langdon also was capped at Under-20s level throughout 2016 and 2017, and previously with the Under-18s.
It was there that he first met a number of his future Saints teammates, as well as on loan with Doncaster Knights during the early years of his career, and Langdon’s confident that those relationships will stand him in great stead when he heads in for preseason training.
“Our season finished pretty late over in France,” he said. “We didn’t quite make the play-offs, but our last game was still the day after the Premiership final, so I’ve got five weeks off from that day onwards.
“I enjoyed a week in the sun with my brother over in France, but then have moved my stuff all over to England now and I’m looking for a place to live here in Northampton.
“I don’t know the area that well yet, but a few of the lads I know around the Club have made some really helpful suggestions around good areas to look at, and I’ve got a few viewings scheduled for the next few days. I’m really excited to move here and get started.
“I’ve played with a few of the lads growing up with the England Under-18s and Under-20s, as well as from camps with the England senior team. Guys like Alex Mitchell, Paul Hill and Lewis Ludlam, Alex Moon as well I played with growing up.”Curtis Langdon
“Then there’s a few guys I played on loan with too. I was at Doncaster for a while when I was younger, and I actually lived with Joel Matavesi for a few weeks then when he was on loan from Newcastle. He’s a fantastic bloke to be around.
“Tom James was there as well at the same time, so I’m looking forward to linking up with all those boys again here in Northampton.”
Langdon’s Montpellier side finished 11th in the Top 14 after a disappointing season on the pitch, but he insists the campaign was an eye-opening one as he looked to improve his game over in France.
The emphasis on the set piece – an area where Langdon aims to make a difference for Saints – was distinct from any other environment he’d been involved in so far during his career.
He added: “The Top 14 is definitely a different sort of rugby to the Premiership. People tend to think of it as being a lot slower, and it probably is to some extent but not because the players aren’t as fit.
“Every breakdown is a contest, the collisions are huge, and the ball is therefore slower, which also results in more collisions off the scrum-half. So overall, it’s probably a more physical game, and the set-piece is massive over there.
“All the scrums were battles. It’s not as technical over there, but you’ve got massive blokes in every team doing everything they can to go forward, and it’s the same at the lineout with the driving maul.
“We spent a long time during the week going over the set-piece in France, so you certainly get a sense of how important that part of the game is over there.”