Frustrated Saracens playmaker Max Malins hopes his impending move to Bristol will bring title glory and reignite his international ambitions with England.
Versatile Malins, 23, has suffered rotten luck this season, with a twice broken fifth metatarsal denying him the opportunity to move up the Saracens pecking order in the absences of Owen Farrell and Alex Goode before the pandemic brought a halt to proceedings.
Now fit and hungry for action, the fly-half/full-back told The Rugby Paper: “The injury was very annoying. When I did it the first time at the start of the season, my initial thought was that I’d missed a really good opportunity with ‘Faz’ away at the World Cup.
“I was distraught about that because it would have been a great chance to stake a claim early in the season. And then with ‘Goodey’ getting injured as well it really opened things up for me, so to break my metatarsal again four games back was devastating.
“I was just getting back running again as COVID-19 struck, so the timing of that was really bad too, but the good thing is I’ve got a bigger screw in the bone now to hopefully give me better support and when we do get back training, I should be ready to go.”
With Saracens facing automatic relegation to the Championship, Malins feels his career will be much better served after agreeing a season-long loan at Bristol.
“Once news of relegation was announced, I had to look at what was best for me,” Malins explained.
“I had a meeting with Mark McCall, Phil Morrow, our head of performance, and Ed Griffiths, who was there at the time, and we all agreed that I needed to be playing Premiership rugby.
“I was pleased we were all on the same page and although loan options were pretty scarce, I got a call from Pat Lam saying they wanted me and were looking to get the strongest squad they could together in the here and now, so it was a great opportunity.
“I’d played pretty well against Bristol a couple of times and that might have stuck in Pat’s mind, so I’m really pleased with the move and to be going there with Ben Earl, one of my best friends at Saracens, will hopefully make the transition a little easier.”
With Malins and Earl available to play for Bristol from August 1, he added: “Depending on what happens, there’s a chance we might get some games for Saracens before moving to Bristol – then it’ll be an exciting end to the season down there.
“Bristol are in a really good position in the Premiership and are doing well in the Challenge Cup as well, so they’ve still got a lot to play for and I’ll be going there to hopefully compete for a title, which is what Saracens have been doing as well.
“Speaking to Pat, I’m really impressed with what they’re doing there and seeing the new training facility nearing completion, that looks incredible as well. It’s a club with high ambitions and they play an exciting brand of rugby which suits my game.”
Equally comfortable at No.10 or 15, Malins has ambitions to follow Earl into the England set-up.
However, breaking into the Bristol team will be no cake walk.
He said: “Looking at higher honours, maybe 15 will be a better place for me, but I’ll leave both doors open and it’s going to be hard enough getting into that Bristol team when I get there.
“They’ve got Charles Piutau in that full-back slot and Callum Sheedy’s going really well at No.10 so it’s certainly not going to be easy for me, but the great thing is they’ll have a really strong squad and, hopefully, that will mean competing for titles.
“If things go well, maybe I can follow what Ben’s been doing. We came through the Saracens academy together and we’ve lived together as well, so to see what he’s done recently in playing for England has been pretty inspiring for me.
“Ali Crossdale and I went up to Scotland in February to see his debut and it was surreal watching him sing the national anthem, so that’s the dream.”
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