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Northampton Saints' Karl Wilkins during the 2021/22 season.
Claire Jones / RedHatPhoto.com
Rugby

Wilkins ready to take second chance at Saints

Back rower Karl Wilkins is settling back into life at Franklin's Gardens quickly after spending seven year's away from the Club in France, and now the come-again Saint is relishing a second chance at life in Northampton.

The 25-year-old flanker, who is also comfortable in the engine room, came through the Academy at Saints before braving the switch to Clermont Auvergne as an 18-year-old.

And after switching to ProD2 side Béziers, Wilkins now returns home for a second bite of the cherry in Black, Green and Gold and is already settling back into life as a Saint. 

“The stadium looks as I remembered it," said Wilkins. “A few things have changed and while it’s not quite the same, it’s familiar.

“I know a fair few of the lads but obviously I haven’t spoken to them for a while and a few of them are still away. But it’s nice to go in and know a few of the lads.

“I’d always speak to Luds (Lewis Ludlam) and he’s doing really well – I’m pleased for him. I’ve watched him from afar and it will be nice to hopefully play alongside him.”

And there's every chance that Wilkins and long-term friend Ludlam could line-up alongside each other in the upcoming season as the Ipswich-born flankers look to make the back row their own in the 2021/22 campaign.  

“In France, it’s funny because the seven and six are very different,” Wilkins added. “The seven is always on the right side of the scrum and the six is always on the left so you kind of end up with two six and a halves.

“The seven is more the lineout jumper whereas here that would traditionally be the six. Here, it’s probably more of a six that I would be.

“I’m still growing into my role.”

Despite plying his trade on the continent, the former Saint kept an eye on his boyhood club's progress and, after watching Northampton's progress in recent years, is now ready to help Northampton add some more silverware to their trophy cabinet. 

And Wilkins said: “I watched last season when they were doing really well in that fight for the top four and it was just some small little things that meant they lost out.

“You can see how tight this league is so it’s about being able to correct or minimise the little errors as much as possible and overall we’ll see a few more wins.

“They’re not missing much to get into the top four or even the top two.”

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