Flanagan praises Saracens pathway after making senior debut
For young forward Chloe Flanagan, Sunday afternoon at the StoneX was a dream come true, as she made her Saracens debut.
As a Graduate from the Saracens Women full time college academy at Oaklands College, Flanagan admitted that she was more than a little shocked to find out she was in the side against Bristol.
“I was a little surprised and a bit in shock if I’m honest,” the young gun laughed. “But I was just really happy to get the opportunity. All of us have worked really hard in pre-season, so I think it was just happiness and excitement that I felt.”
Whilst the result didn’t go the way that Flanagan or her teammates wanted, she saw the experience as a huge learning opportunity.
“The score wasn’t the best, but just to be out there with some of those players was amazing. Even though I was playing, I was still learning from them all during the game. They are all so supportive and gave me more confidence throughout. It helped me to feel more comfortable on the pitch.”
Flanagan is one of several Centre of Excellence & College players who have been graduated to train with the senior squad in the early part of the season. With the likes of fellow Centre of Excellence player Lucy Biggs alongside Flanagan, after making her debut in last season's semi-final win over Harlequins, the player pathway at Saracens is continuing to bear fruit.
The pathway is overseen by Assistant Coach Lewis Sones and Flanagan explained how the work he and prop Rocky Clark had put in behind the scenes had been crucial to her development as a player.
“Rocky has been great with all the forwards stuff and the scrums. With Lewis as well, every day before training, we always do a skills session, which is extremely helpful. It doesn’t matter whether your new to the game or an international, those basics always need to be done right.”
The Centre of Excellence & Full Time College Academy at Oaklands environment has been designed to give players the opportunity to develop into the Saracens of the future, with Flanagan crediting the pathway for helping her realise what needs to be done to make it at the highest level.
“It’s so helpful. When I first came to the college, my skillset wasn’t the best, I just wanted to play. It’s from being in that environment that I realised that I need to perfect everything. Once I was there, I just wanted to work hard and learn.”
Flanagan is currently in the process of transitioning from flanker to the front row, as she continues to develop her game. Making her debut alongside her mentor in Rocky Clark was a huge moment for her, and she admits that she is now aiming to continue to improve as the cup competition continues.
“I want to get it right in this position and really get a feel for it,” she explained. “There were a couple of us that were selected to come in for pre-season to see what we can do, as we look to progress from the academy. I just want to get some more game time and keep progressing.”