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Robbie Smith: “It’s impossible not to become a better player at Saints”

Robbie Smith swapped Newcastle Falcons for Northampton Saints in the summer of 2022, and the Scottish hooker enjoyed a very strong first season at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens – playing 18 times, including featuring in the Premiership semi-finals. Entering season two in Black, Green and Gold, the 25-year-old has big ambitions to build on the strong foundations he has laid…

Q: What are your reflections on your first season at the Club?

RS: I loved it. Obviously it was my first season here, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. We had some pretty good hookers here so I wasn’t sure on game time and stuff like that. I just put my head down and tried to work as hard as I could and try and get as many minutes as I was able to get. I got my opportunity with a few injuries in my position, but I feel like I grew in confidence last year with getting the game time at that top level, and I ended up playing in some pretty big games for Saints, finishing up with playing in the semi-final. For me it was a big season, if anything it’s just boosted my confidence.

Q: How do you feel you adapted to playing in those big games?

RS: One thing I learned about playing those top teams and playing players who are well-known, or international players, thinking about them is far worse than actually playing them. I found in my first couple of games pretty quickly that if you just go at it full force with as much as you can, that’s the best thing that you can do. 

“I found that just not thinking about stuff too much and just putting your head down and working as hard as you can, that will take care of it on the day. That was the best way for me to go about it.”

Robbie Smith

Q: Do you feel like you have improved a lot as a player since joining Saints?

RS: Yes, 100 per cent. Because of the belief the coaches have put in me. It would’ve been very easy for them, after I got a bit of game time but other hookers came back from injury, to put me back to the side. The big thing for me was the belief and confidence they put in me to keep giving me another shot, because I wasn’t playing badly, I was playing pretty well. It was a massive confidence booster for me. 

You’ve got some of the best players in the world here kicking about training. I just feel like the squad, with how young it is, with how ambitious the group is, there’s no way you can’t get better as a player at Saints. It’s a place that's constantly striving to develop players and kick on and try and do well for both the Club but also the individual players. 

Q: How do you feel about another senior hooker, Curtis Langdon, being added to the squad heading into the 2023/24 season?

RS: Curtis is a great player. I’ve enjoyed competing with him this preseason. I think the biggest thing for me with Curtis, is, the fact he’s a similar age to me and he is also got the same ambitions as me. So, for me I want to play as much as I can for Saints, which I am sure he does as well. But then the next step for me is trying to kick on for international honours which I know is his [ambition] as well. You don’t want to compete too much because I’ve got my game and he’s got his game, but I think just having somebody there that’s a similar age with similar ambitions, I feel like we’ve driven each other, especially in preseason. I am sure we will see that come game time as well.

Q: What areas of your game are you looking to develop this season?

RS: I feel like I am a good defender, I feel like that’s one of my strengths. But I feel I could get my hands on the ball a little bit more in and around the try-scoring area, those tight carries, where the taller guys aren’t as suited. Getting down low isn’t really an issue for me. 

“I want to try and get my hands on the ball a little bit more, and make those tough carries, and just add to the team’s already unbelievable attack is my goal.”

Robbie Smith

Q: How much are you looking forward to the Premiership season?

RS: It’s been a long preseason with the World Cup, but the way the Club’s Strength and Conditioning coaches have approached it has been really good. We had a massive emphasis on our physical size and strength as a team. For me, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s nice not to do a preseason that’s full of running!

Physicality is something that in defence especially, Saints probably need to improve on from last year. So, that goes hand in hand with improving our physical size and strength. Hopefully we will see that on the pitch this year. It’s been a really long preseason, it feels like we’ve been at it forever and we’re keen to get the games kicked on. I feel we will see a lot of benefits from it this year the way it has been structured.

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