Malins enjoying Bears experience
When the 2019/20 campaign began, it probably hadn’t crossed Max Malins’ mind that he would be finishing it with another club other than Saracens.
It certainly hadn’t crossed his mind he would be competing in the play-offs after the injuries he’s suffered this term.
The 23-year-old missed the start of the year due to a foot injury sustained in pre-season and then suffered the same injury after impressing on his return with two Gallagher Premiership tries.
That was against Bristol Bears where Malins is currently enjoying a loan spell. It’s the former England Under-20s’ first time away from Sarries for a prolonged period and he admits there were a few nerves mixed in with eagerness ahead of the move which he made alongside teammate Ben Earl
“I think there was apprehension and excitement,” he said. “I’ve not really moved into a new environment for so long so there was apprehension there, but the unknown was exciting.
"It’s very different to living back in St Albans where I was home visiting family most weekends whereas now I can’t do that with everything that’s going on. I am enjoying living here though, it’s a nice area of the country to live.”
He added: “We came in after lockdown in groups of six and got to know the boys from there; it was probably easier than getting to know a room of 40 or 50 from the off. The group made it really easy to settle in.
“With Ben making the move as well it made things simple. You’ve always got that one mate to go back to and chill with!”
Bristol have a reputation for playing expansive rugby which is considered by many as a loose style.
Malins has flourished on the field in that style, picking up multiple man-of-the-match awards as well as scoring six tries in nine games – although it could have been seven if not for the ball slipping out of his grasp against London Irish!
“We’ve tried to park that one!” he joked.
“To have the opportunity to now play in the play-offs after those injuries is great."
“When I first arrived it was a shock to the system the amount of detail there was within the game plan. From the outside looking in, you think it’s just chucking the ball around but there’s a lot more detail and planning that goes into it.
“I played the first few games at 15 and that helped me settle into the system without necessarily making all the decisions from 10. I’ve enjoyed playing in both positions and it’s only positive for me to continue my development in both.”
Bears fans, as well as Saracens, have praised Malins on social media for his performances since the restart and he has aided Pat Lam side’s route to the top four.
They face Wasps on Saturday for an opportunity to reach the Premiership final with the winner facing either Exeter Chiefs or Bath Rugby, both of whom Bristol have beaten this season.
Malins concluded: “It’s obviously been quite a tough season and I thought it was up for me (after the second injury) so in a way, the Covid break was a blessing.
“To have the opportunity to now play in the play-offs after those injuries is great.
“Ultimately, we want to get into the final and win it. There’s a lot of process and detail that goes into that.
“Wasps are on a very good winning streak and they’re a dangerous side with momentum but it’s a challenge we’re up for and one we’re looking forward to.”