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Smith: Saints are chomping at the bit for Derby

In a little over a year at Northampton Saints, Fin Smith has raced to 24 appearances and faced ten different Gallagher Premiership opponents.

On Saturday though, he hopes to complete the current set of top-flight teams as the 21-year-old is in line to participate in his first East Midlands Derby – with the men in Black, Green and Gold making the trip to Mattioli Woods Welford Road to take on Leicester Tigers.

The fly-half missed Saints’ victory there last season, as he was away on international duty, and had joined the Club too late to participate in the reverse fixture in Round 3 of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership campaign.

“I can’t wait,” said Smith. “I’ve never played in a Saints versus Tigers derby. It’s a first experience for me, from chatting to my teammates, it’s something you can’t really appreciate unless you’re there.  

“It’s such a big game, there’s so much tension and there’s so much on the line. We’re chomping at the bit.

“I can’t wait personally to get out there but also I think it’s going to be a massive one for the team away from home to see how where we go against a Tigers team that probably haven’t been where they’d like to be so far this year.”

Fin Smith

Smith geared up for his first senior trip to Welford Road with a man-of-the-match performance against Exeter Chiefs last time out, as he kicked 14 points and provided a brilliant assist for Tommy Freeman’s early try in a 34-19 victory at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

“We were happy with a lot of it,” said Smith on the bonus-point win. “I think we were seven or eight out of ten on pretty much all parts of the game. We’re confident that if we can be at the sort of level it doesn’t take any moments of magic for us to win games when we’re playing like that.

“Personally, I was fairly happy with how it went and it was good for us to get a few wins on the board at home after a poor result against Bristol Bears earlier in the season.”

Watching on in the stands was Smith’s now former fly-half colleague at the club, James Grayson, who said his goodbyes at half-time ahead of a move to Japan.

Smith paid tribute to the 25-year-old who played 92 times for the men in Black, Green and Gold, scoring 617 points.

“He’s an amazing guy and a brilliant rugby player,” said Smith. “It was great getting to know him over the last year, getting to pick his brains about a lot of his kicking stuff, a lot of his decision-making stuff. We chatted about rugby loads together. We had a common interest of wanting to get much better.

“It was really great having him here to push me. I wish him all the best with his move to Japan. He is an unbelievable rugby player and I am sure he will do some brilliant things over there.”

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