Malins taking his chances to stay in Mark McCall's plans after making European bow
PUBLISHED: 17:01 31 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:01 31 March 2019
It wasn't the normal way to make your European debut but Max Malins was delighted to get the chance to play his part in Saracens' comprehensive 56-27 win over Glasgow Warriors.
The former Old Albanian star was called up at the last minute following Owen Farrell’s late withdrawal to attend the birth of his first child.
And Malins, who was a junior at Saffron Walden Rugby Club as well as being a former pupil at Felsted School, was delighted to be given his chance in the Heineken Champions Cup clash at Allianz Park with 11 minutes to go.
He said: “It was a bit of an odd situation but I was very pleased to get on the bench and get a bit of game time and my first taste of European rugby.
“We got a kick up the bum straight away with their first try [scored after 68 seconds].
“That shocked us a bit but it also put us into the game and we really came out firing.
“I didn’t think we were quite there in defence, there’s a lot to work on there but our attacking stuff was great and we’re really please to get the win.”
Malins’ first taste of rugby in Europe’s premier competition was just the latest in a run of first-team appearances.
And the fact he is still being considered for selection, despite the return of the club’s big hitters from Six Nations duty, is something he says he has been striving for all year.
“I had a really good pre-season which was stunted a bit by an ankle injury which kept me out for eight weeks at the start of the year.
“I came back for a few Premiership Rugby Cup games where my form was there or thereabouts but I still wasn’t truly firing.
“But the last month or two, I’ve been really been pleased to be playing.
“I certainly like to think I’ve kept myself in the reckoning.
“That was my aim at the start of the year, that at least I’m considered for whatever game it is.
“I hope I’ve done that and hopefully I’ll continue to get a bit of game time at the end of the season.”
The injury was his first major set-back as a professional but the recovery and return to form of the talented back is a sure sign of the maturity and positive attitude needed to sustain a career at the highest level.
He said: “At the time I was really frustrated because I’d started several pre-season games and it had gone well and I was hoping to get the first two games in the Prem Cup.
“That was taken away from me.
“But that’s part of the game and part of the job we do. You have to deal with injuries.
“At Saracens we always talk about resilience being a key thing and that’s through times of injury and not just when you’re playing.
“You’ve got to keep your head up high, keep positive and get back fit again.”