“I Kahn fight for my place”, says Northampton Lee Dickson

 Lee DicksonLee Dickson’s starting spot at Franklin’s Gardens will come under considerable threat when Europe’s most sought-after scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i joins Northampton in the summer.

However the England international says that rather than shirk the challenge, he is relishing the competition for a jersey he has made his own since joining from Newcastle five years ago.

Neither Stuart Commins nor Welsh international Martin Roberts have ever really managed to threaten Dickson’s place in the team, but in Samoa’s Fotuali’i, director of rugby Jim Mallinder has snapped up someone who will provide a much sterner challenge.

Outstanding for the Ospreys and Samoa this season, Fotuali’i was rumoured to be a target for several of the big-spending French clubs.

However after Saints beat them to the punch, Dickson faces a very real threat to his place, but the 27-year-old insists he has no intentions of giving up without a fight.

He told The Rugby Paper: “Jim was very good about it and spoke to me and made me aware of the signing. He sat me down and said he was arriving and I’m happy with him coming. I am looking forward to the challenge. You play rugby because you want to be challenged.

“I am a very competitive person and him coming is going to really drive me on as a player. It will spur me on to play better and make sure I am on my top game the whole time I go out there.

“It’s brilliant to have competition for places and it drives you on as a player. If we are playing well at the same time it’s going to be a difficult decision but that’s the decision the coaches have to make.

“All I’ve got to do is play well and keep my shirt for the Saints. We are two different types of scrum-half who play different styles. Each game we go into the Saints will be able to choose from two scrum-halves.

“It’s great to have players like that who want to come play for the Saints. He is a top-class player and the fact that he and backs coach Alex King are coming here is a big statement from us.

“Alex has done a great job at Clermont and it’s exciting to see what he brings when he coaches the backline.”

Dickson’s battle for a starting jersey with Fotuali’i will begin as of next season, but there is a far more pressing competition at the forefront of his mind.

A year ago Dickson fought his way from the bench to earn a starting spot in Stuart Lancaster’s England team. However the twin threats of Ben Youngs and Danny Care have seen him relegated to third in the pecking order, with Lancaster seemingly preferring the pair’s sniping threat to Dickson’s game management.

As a result Dickson has worked on his running game and is adamant that he will be able to force his way back into Lancaster’s plans before the Six Nations is out.

He added: “I fully believe that I will be back in the England team at some point over the Six Nations. I believe I am good enough and if I keep working hard I’ll get a chance.

“If I play well for the Saints then I’ll get my place back for England. I feel like am I playing well at the moment and I have got to fight my way back into the team. I want to be in the England team for a long time.

“I am very disappointed not to be playing for England. I always want to play for my country and that spurs me on even more – the fact that I want to get better, play better and get back in that team.

“I speak to the coaches every week when I train with the squad. The England set-up is brilliant and they are always giving you feedback.

“I have to keep working on what I do well – my quickness of ball, composure, kicking game and they want me to go out and interest the defence a bit more in attack. Add a running game to my style but nothing serious. They always want you to be yourself and play to your strengths.”

MAT EVANS

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