Saracens winger Maitland hails Tompkins’ mental strength after his late inclusion against Scarlets
PUBLISHED: 16:41 24 October 2016 | UPDATED: 18:30 24 October 2016
Saracens winger Sean Maitland has hailed Nick Tompkins’ mental strength after the 21-year-old centre scored a try and took the man of the match award against Scarlets on Saturday, having only being added to the starting line-up moments before kick-off.
Tompkins was a late replacement for captain Brad Barritt in the Champions Cup showdown at Allianz Park.
However, he put in a fine performance and was one of the home side’s five try-scorers – along with Mako Vunipola, Marcelo Bosch, Chris Wyles and Michael Rhodes – as the defending European champions triumphed 44-26 against their Welsh visitors and made it two wins from two in Pool 3, leaving them five points clear at the top ahead of Toulon.
“He (Tompkins) is class,” Maitland told Ham&High Sport. “To come in last-minute was going to be tough for the mind but he scored a class try, so hat’s off to him. We’ve got some quality boys in the team.
“We’ve got that great blend of workhorses and carriers in the team, but it’s the way we work together. It’s been paying dividends for us for the whole season.
“In the second half we managed to finish those last passes that we weren’t doing in the first half. We always knew that they would come out and chuck the ball around and they’re a quality team. It was going to take a while to break them down but we managed to hold on to the ball and make fewer mistakes.
“We’re just taking one game at a time, there’s still a long way to go in the competition. But obviously looking at those two games with Sale [in December], they’re going to be really important. It’s good that we’ve come up with two wins from two and it’s good for confidence.”
Saracens, who are also top of the domestic table, will now refocus on their Premiership campaign as they prepare to host fourth-placed Leicester on Saturday.
Mark McCall’s side have not lost to the Tigers since 2012 but Maitland insists there will be no hint of complacency.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” he said. “With Leicester coming here, it’s going to be another tough game, They’ve got some quality players and they always target this game from what I hear.”
Saracens will be without England lock Maro Itoje, who will undergo surgery after fracturing his right hand in Saturday’s European clash and miss the next six weeks.
Director of rugby McCall said: “For any team to lose a player of the ability of Maro is a blow and he will be missed through the autumn for both Saracens and England.
“What’s now important for Maro is his recovery and we look forward to his return later this season.”