New Recruits | Isla Alejandro
Isla Alejandro has quickly become an important part of the Saracens family since joining from Loughborough Lightning over the summer.
We spoke to the fullback about her time at the club so far and how she is finding life in North London, ahead of a showdown with her former club tomorrow afternoon.
A try on your debut is something to always savour. For Alejandro, she was delighted to make an immediate impact for her new side, in the opening game of the Allianz Cup against Bristol.
"It was really nice and pretty unexpected!" she laughed. "It was one of those where you get the ball and the next thing you know, you’re over the line. The next thing I knew, Shaz (Sharifa Kasolo) was underneath me screaming and trying to pick me up! It was really great, despite the result. It’s only done good things for the team though in terms of gelling as a side."
Alejandro arrived at the club in the summer, having spent her life so far in the Midlands. The young gun explained that "it was quite unexpected" when Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry first made contact with her. However, she explained that she has been thrilled to have a fresh start after graduating from university.
"Growing up, I didn’t do much pathway stuff and obviously Alex is a really big name in the pathway system. When he first approached me, it was quite unexpected. From the conversations we had, I felt that this was a new path that I wanted to explore. I finished uni, so it was a nice natural end. You can sort of look at where you want to go next. I grew up in the Midlands and spent a lot of time there, so I reached a point where I thought if I didn’t go after I finished uni, then I never would!"
With a number of players away at the World Cup in New Zealand, the cup campaign so far has highlighted the strength in depth within the Saracens setup.
Alejandro praised the togetherness of the squad and how welcoming they had been, as well as taking the time to highlight the influence the coaching team have on the group.
"It’s really lovely. It really helps with the way the coaches are as well. You just come into it and it’s brilliant. I wasn’t quite sure what it would be like and how it all links together. But you can’t help but become engulfed in it all because of how welcoming everyone is. The facilities are amazing. I feel like I’ve timed it really well with the new stand as well. The few games I’ve been to so far, the atmosphere has been amazing."
It isn't just the rugby that is allowing Alejandro to explore all that the club has to offer. Away from the pitch, she has taken on a role of Project Officer for Rugby Development as part of the Saracens Foundation and admitted that the role had given her a real insight into the work the club does off the pitch.
"It’s been great working around the area. It’s given me a good perspective on all the amazing things the club is doing off the pitch as well. Obviously, there’s lots of success on the pitch but to see first-hand the impact that the whole team and the foundation has in and around the local area is just so rewarding. Everyone has been so welcoming," she beamed.
Returning to rugby affairs, tomorrow afternoon sees Alejandro come up against her former side at StoneX Satdium. The fullback admits that the game "is a key one in [her] mind." The focus remains very much on her own side's performance tomorrow afternoon, but Alejandro did admit that it will be nice to catch up with some old faces after the match.
"We're all here to do the same job. We all want the same thing on the pitch and for everyone, it’s about consistently doing that over the full eighty minutes. I’m really looking forward to playing against some familiar faces though and I’m sure we’ll have a good catch-up after."