The Interview | Hugh Tizard
THERE IS A DATE IN HUGH TIZARD’S DIARY THAT NOT ONLY HAS ONE RED CIRCLE AROUND THE DAY, BUT TWO! IT IS SATURDAY, 23 MARCH – ‘SHOWDOWN 4’ AT THE TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR STADIUM.
It’s not just that it is a big London derby match, or another chance for the ‘Men in Black’. For the 6ft 5in, 120kg lock it is far more personal than that.
The 23-year old former England U20 giant came through the ranks at the Quins before opting to switch to Saracens 18 months ago. His competitive debut for Sarries was against his old teammates – and he loved it, helping his new side to a 30- 276 victory.
By the end of the season he had also played in his first Premiership Final, helping Saracens to beat Sale Sharks at Twickenham. Not a bad way to end your first campaign at a new club!
Having cited the desire to get closer to Maro Itoje as one of the main reasons behind his switch to Saracens, ‘Showdown4’ should give him the chance to measure his development against one of his first rugby heroes, Joe Launchbury.
Tizard grew up watching Wasps and was a huge admirer of the former England lock. If they do come face to face at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in March then it will give the rising Sarries star the chance to measure his progress against a past master of second row play.
“There are always a lot of WattsApp messages flying back and forth before a game against Quins. It’s great banter and it is probably the hardest game to play,” admitted Tizard.
“I had a great grounding at Quins, but the switch to Saracens was all about getting closer to Maro Itoje to try to learn from him and further develop my game. I’ve had a great 18 months at the club and just want to keep on getting better.
“You saw against Lyon just how good Maro is. There is no second row like him in the world game and his influence on the game in so many areas is massive.
“He is everywhere and gets involved in everything. Beating Lyon was a massive step forward from the previous week in Bordeaux and proved we are able to react to adversity.”
With the England Six Nations squad members unavailable, it is time for the likes of Tizard to step up and fill the massive gap left by the loss of Itoje and Nick Isiekwe over the coming months.
“It is time for some of us to step up in the big games and against the big teams. We had a successful period last year during the Six Nations when the top layers were away, and we want the same again this season. They will all be back for the ‘Showdown’ but it’s our job in the meantime to keep standards high.
“I feel that since I’ve been at Saracens my game has become far more complete and my set piece work has become much better and is becoming a strong part of my game. Now it is all about becoming more consistent.”