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Mallinder: Working with Saints Foundation put my injury into perspective

Harry Mallinder says the work he has done with the Northampton Saints Foundation helped him hugely during his spell on the sidelines.

The 23-year-old made his return to Saints action last Sunday, having been forced to miss 15 months due to injury.

And Mallinder marked his comeback in the best possible style, scoring after just six minutes as his side secured a 33-20 Champions Cup win against Benetton Rugby at Franklin's Gardens.

The emotion was there for all to see as Mallinder roared with delight after diving over the line.

It was the perfect way for him to celebrate being back in the Black, Green and Gold and was such a special moment after so long out.

"I've spent a lot of time with the Saints Foundation and that has helped me enormously."

Harry Mallinder

"It was a huge relief to be back out there," said Mallinder, who is a Saints Foundation ambassador.

"It was a huge day for me personally because it's been a really testing 15 months or so.

"Every other thought was about this moment and I was so happy to be back."

Mallinder has not wasted his time while being out of action, combining his rehabilitation with important contributions in the local community.

He has been heavily involved in the work done by the Saints Foundation, using the power of sport and the values of rugby to drive positive change in young people. 

And Mallinder's partnership with the Saints Foundation has clearly been mutually beneficial.

"I've allowed myself to really put my situation into perspective," he said.

"I've spent a lot of time with the Saints Foundation and that has helped me enormously because when I see real problems and real issues that young people are going through in this town and this county, it makes me feel like what I've been going through is pretty insignificant.

"It wasn't until my injury that I got properly involved with the Foundation. I go to as many sessions as I can and I have been quite moved by it.

"It's been very rewarding and in a way it has put my injury into perspective. It has made me realise how lucky we have got it as rugby players."

One of the main aims of the Saints Foundation is to improve confidence and wellbeing in young people, facilitating a return to education, training and employment.

And Mallinder has more than played his part in helping to achieve that, reflecting on his work with Marshall Summers-Miller, a youngster from local school Northampton International Academy (NIA), who had been struggling with mainstream education.

"I have seen the progress the students from last year have made and it makes you realise how important the work they do is."

Harry Mallinder

Mallinder explained: "His attendance was poor, he started misbehaving and started being difficult in class and physical with his fellow students and teachers.

"We went down, sat with him for three hours, had a long chat with him, he got emotional on us and cried.

"Since then we have done four or five sessions, every three or four weeks where we meet up, we set goals and incentives for him and as long as he meets schoolwork targets and attends all his classes he can get rewarded.

"The plan was when I play my first game back he was going to come and watch. It is amazing how far this lad has come."

Mallinder has also been particularly involved with HITZ, Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme which works with more than 2,000 14 to 18-year-olds across England every year.

"I think it is an unbelievable programme, I really do," Mallinder said.

"I've seen in the last few years from when I first presented an award, it makes you realise how many young people in local communities it affects and makes a difference to.

"I have seen the progress the students from last year have made and it makes you realise how important the work they do is."

And even though Mallinder is now back in the thick of the first-team action at Franklin's Gardens, he will still be playing a big part for the Saints Foundation.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is just the start really," he said.

"My main aim for this season is to get the Saints Foundation and the other programmes, players and staff more integrated."