‘I’ve never been the loudest in the room but I will never fake who I am’: Saracens’ quiet man Max Malins aims to leave the club with a bang by clinching Premiership glory
- The versatile back joined the Saracens academy as a quiet teenager
- The 26-year-old leaves the club as one of England’s silkiest attackers
- Malins will join Bristol after next Saturday’s final against Sale at Twickenham
In a cafe in the leafy surroundings of St Albans, Max Malins orders the bacon waffle stack with extra sausages. ‘We’ll be covering a few metres this afternoon,’ he says with a laugh, justifying the extra calories as he douses his food in maple syrup.
It is the breakfast sitting and Malins has blocked out a couple of hours from his diary for a farewell interview, before he plays a round of golf with Ben Earl at Wentworth.
He is cherishing every moment he has left in the area, with just one match remaining for Saracens — next Saturday’s Premiership final — before he moves his life to Bristol. ‘Ben’s a better golfer than I am,’ he says. ‘I’ve only just stopped using my dad’s clubs from the Eighties!’
He traces back his friendship with Earl to their schoolboy days in the Saracens academy, reliving his journey with his best friend.
‘Ben joined the club when he was 14 or 15 and I joined a couple of years later,’ says the 26-year-old.
Saracens back three star Max Malins has scored 47 tries in his past 56 club games
The quiet schoolboy who arrived as a teenager leaves Saracens as one of England’s best attackers
‘I remember getting a call when I was playing a cricket match for school, at Haileybury. I came into the pavilion, we were batting, and I got this call asking me to go down to training on the Monday.
‘Me and Ralph Adams-Hale went to our first session together, down on the 4G pitch at Hatfield. We had played against each other the Sunday before, Bishop’s Stortford v Harpenden, and after that we got asked to go down to train.
‘It was under-17 level that I properly joined the academy. I looked at the guys above me and thought, “F****** hell, they’re good, I don’t know if I’ll be able to manage that.” I wasn’t the most confident.
‘When the first contracts were coming around, I was debating with my mum whether I should take it or go to university. I was looking at going to Loughborough to do banking, finance and management but now I’m very glad I didn’t.’
Having played cricket and hockey to a regional level before committing to rugby, Malins is one of the most gifted all-rounders in the game. The quiet schoolboy who arrived at Saracens as a teenager leaves as one of England’s silkiest attackers, established with both club and country.
‘Over the last few weeks it’s come to the realisation that I’m moving on. Because of the salary cap structure I had to make the decision before a ball was even kicked in the Premiership this season, so I didn’t have to properly adjust to it. It was the toughest decision of my career.
‘It’s been an emotional time. We had an awards evening where guys get up and say something about the leavers, guys like Duncan Taylor and Jackson Wray. Ben stood up and spoke about me and I got pretty tearful. He’s my best mate.
‘Moving to St Albans two days after finishing school, it’s a place where I turned from a boy to a man. In my first year I was back home at every opportunity. A homeboy, going back for dinner. You slowly work yourself out of that.
The silky back is one of the most gifted all-round players of his generation at Saracens
Saracens will take on George Ford’s Sal Sharks at the Premiership final next Saturday
‘I’ve grown up here with great memories and great friends. Driving away from the club is when it hits you. I didn’t enjoy the semi-final week because there’s so much unknown. Is it your last? I wasn’t a fan of it, not knowing. Knowing this is my last game, with a chance to sign off with the Premiership trophy, makes it so much easier.’
Last Monday, Malins started packing up his flat with help from his mum. His lease is up two days before the final against Sale but his landlord has granted an extension. He is looking to buy in Bristol as he seeks greater responsibility in the No 15 jersey.
‘One of the main reasons was the opportunity to play 15,’ says Malins, who has settled on the wing at Saracens, scoring 47 tries in his past 56 club games. ‘I asked to play more at 15 with Sarries last year but we’ve got Alex Goode and Elliot Daly. Bristol made it clear that I would be their 15.
‘I was a bit-part player before I went to Bristol [on loan when Saracens were relegated] and the style they play suited me down to the ground.
‘I went down on Monday to do some house viewings and I’m in the process of putting an offer in for a place. Why not? Hopefully I find a place that I can call home.
‘All being well, I’ll go into camp with England, then do you get released? Do you go to the World Cup? How far do you go in the World Cup? It could be anywhere between July and November that I move down.’
Malins was omitted from Eddie Jones’s England squad last year because of his body language but Steve Borthwick seems to have a greater understanding of his personality. ‘Steve’s got a good personal touch and he knows the Sarries coaches well. I like to think he understands me.
Malins believes that Steve Borthwick has a ‘good personal touch’ and thinks he understands the 26-year-old
The 26-year-old is focused on next Saturday’s Premiership final against Sale at Twickenham
‘I’ve never been the loudest in the room and I will never fake who I am. I’m part of a big family, one of four with two older brothers. I’ve always been happy to be the quiet one.’
Sipping on a glass of juice, he swerves talk about the World Cup and focuses his attention on next Saturday’s game at Twickenham.
‘I want nothing more than to sign off the right way at Saracens. Losing in the final against Leicester last year was pretty gut wrenching.
‘Everyone here has stuck by the club and shown loyalty. Going through tough times does bind people together and it’s made those bonds stronger. [Relegation for financial irregularities] was a terrible time for the club. To sign out lifting a trophy… that would be the icing on the cake.’
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