Hong Kong rugby product Matt Worley moves from Racing 92 to Northampton Saints – ‘I need to pass my driving test’
The 20-year-old feels right at home with the English club and is hoping for more opportunities
With the cultural and language barriers of Paris behind him, Hong Kong product Matt Worley can sense greater opportunities await him after moving from Racing 92 to Northampton Saints.
After two seasons in Racing’s academy, Worley was a victim of French rugby’s increasing local player quotas – “unfortunately they started at the bottom at the academy” – but already he feels more at home at his new club after getting his first taste this week.
“I’m speaking the same language, so already that has made me feel a bit more comfortable,” the full back said. “Northampton is definitely a bit different from Paris and obviously way different to Hong Kong. But I’m not a stranger, it’s not a different language and a different culture, so I feel like I’m more integrated already.”
There is one challenge Worley will face in England that he didn’t encounter in Hong Kong or Paris: “I’m only a 10-minute drive from the ground, but I need to learn how to pass my driving test first or get myself a bike.”
Worley will be part of the Saints’ senior academy but will be more involved at the top end than he was with Racing, where he featured in only a couple of preseason games with the first team and the side’s Natixis Cup clash with the Sharks in Hong Kong in February.
“At Northampton it’s a bit different. At Racing it was academy and you occasionally did things with the pros, but here I am 100 per cent going to be integrated with the pros,” Worley said after touring Northampton’s Franklin’s Gardens home.
“In the Saints’ senior academy, effectively you are a member of the pro squad. It already sounds a bit more player development focused, which is really exciting. I definitely think opportunity-wise there is going to be loads more here, as opposed to in Paris.”
While top-level opportunities will still be difficult to come by, Worley hopes he will get his chance to shine in the developmental Premiership Rugby Cup – formerly the Anglo-Welsh Cup – and the Premiership Sevens.
“There’s the Premiership Sevens coming up early in preseason which they often put quite a few academy guys in. I’m hoping, with my background in sevens in Hong Kong, to get a gig in that,” Worley said.
Worley, who has represented Hong Kong at every age-grade level and played in last year’s World Rugby U20 Trophy, has a good feeling about being in Northampton.
“Racing’s facilities were state-of-the-art, it was incredible, but having a walk around the grounds at Franklin’s Gardens, it’s equally impressive,” he said. “There is such a history around this club, whereas Racing are quite newly promoted.”
He is looking forward to working with renowned mentor Chris Boyd, who will move to the Saints from the Wellington Hurricanes at the end of the Super Rugby season, and rubbing shoulders with England veterans James Haskell, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes.
“It was gutting to be told at Racing that it was the end of the road but when one door closes another opens and I am very lucky to have another opportunity,” he said.