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Hutchinson: I want to get back to the top of my game this campaign

Northampton Saints centre Rory Hutchinson is ready to hit the highs of previous seasons this term as the men in Black, Green and Gold aim for a top-two spot in the Gallagher Premiership.

Last season, Hutchinson himself admitted he wasn’t quite at his best. The 2022/23 campaign saw the Scotland international play 25 games crossing the whitewash twice, whereas the season prior, he played 28 games and scored nine tries.

The 27-year-old has played three times this season so far, including Saints’ narrow opening day defeat away to Sale Sharks, which Hutchinson knows his side had enough chances to win.

“It was a frustrating one,” he said. “We gave ourselves enough opportunities to win that game and we stayed in the fight well. 

“Our forwards were excellent, we really fronted up physically and we tested them. Unfortunately, it was one of those games where we didn’t quite get over the line. 

“There’s a lot of positives to take from it, and we are really looking forward to the challenge this week.

“We’ve definitely progressed as a squad; the energy was high. Our defence was one of the best it’s been at Sale over the years, so there is plenty of positives to take out of it. But there are always aspects to work on.”

Attentions turn to Bristol this weekend, as the southwest outfit travel to cinch Stadium at Franklins Gardens for Saints’ first home game of the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership season.

Saints have won their last two home games against the Bears in league action with Hutchinson scoring a try and assisting another in a 39-22 victory in the 2021/22 campaign.

“It is always an exciting game when we play Bristol and one that we are looking forward to.”

Rory Hutchinson

“It’s the first home game of the Premiership season so that is something else we are really looking forward to.”

One player that needs no introduction is Bristol’s most recent signing, Virimi Vakatawa. The 32-times capped French international arrived at Ashton Gate late on in the summer and made his Premiership debut off the bench against Leicester Tigers in Round 1.

Hutchinson recalled: “I think the last time I played against him was when we played Racing 92 at home and you can’t miss him, he’s a big lad and it’s going to be a really good challenge.”

Reflecting on his own ambitions, he said: “For me personally, I just want to get back to where I was playing a few years ago. I had a bit of a quiet season last year so this year I want to get my best rugby on the field.

“I think to get back to my top form, it’s through playing a free-flowing game of rugby. We’ve all got that skill of looking up and finding open space and we can all run, kick and catch so it’s just getting that all connected on the field.

“It’s been a bit of a different preseason. We are all a bit heavier and got more physical as a backline. It’s nice being back after such a long preseason, it’s the longest one I have done.

“I felt like it was a 15-week build-up to that game last week and we are really looking forward to putting that into the game this week.”

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