With Her Majesty’s rugby press gathered to discuss Tom Wood’s retirement there was only one person missing – Tom was still out on the pitch training.
In no sense is this legendary Saints player winding down in the last few weeks of his 12th and final season both as a Saintsman and a rugby player.
If there is a chance he can play some part in whatever lies ahead for Saints in the next few weeks he is determined to be ready for it.
The dislocated shoulder that has kept him on the sidelines is very much on the mend and although is he not quite ready to pull the shirt on this week, if needed he would answer the call.
It is precisely that kind of grit that has made him such a favourite at Franklin’s Gardens.
He said: “When I was on the pitch last year I played well. The two injuries that have happened could have happened to anyone anytime. I had a dislocated shoulder and a stud go through a boot into my toe. It is not the sort of thing you could prepare for.
“I had surgery on the shoulder, it went well and I am just on the cusp of coming back. I don’t know whether the team can buy me enough time to feature this season but I am training as though I am going to be in the final and scoring the winner. That’s the plan.”
With 50 caps for England and 240 for Saints there are plenty of career highlights to choose from.
Without doubt Saints fans memories will go back to the semi-final against Leicester when Tom scored a try that seemed to cause the whole town to erupt in celebration.
“This is the first time in my whole career I have had time to reflect,” Tom said “I remember by debut, the East Midlands derby, sun was out, immaculate pitch and I actually got Man of the Match, sorry about that. Whether I deserved it I don’t know because Tonga’uiha and Chris Ashton were on fire that day as well.
“Then there was the semi-final win, the East Midlands derby at home, having been nearly men we went on to win the European against Bath in Cardiff and of course the final went to 100 minutes against Sarries. That was probably the stand out month of my career, it stands out as the peak of my personal and the teams journey. Hopefully there is more to come. Obviously my England debut, beating the All Blacks in 2012, huge occasions.
“I came here really excited as a 23-year-old from Worcester in 2010. I saw the energy they had in this team. I learned so much, had such a great time. Beyond the team itself, the club and community welcomed me with open arms. It’s a rugby town. I’ve settled in and my kids are in school here. I’m here to stay. I can’t thank the club and town enough really.
“My closest mates, Mikey Heywood, Courtney Lawes and Alex Waller are in the same boat. I feel like an adopted child of Northampton or have become one. With the way the game is going, the business side of things, it is getting harder and harder to be a one club man.”
Tom’s plans for the future involve going into business with team mate Alex Waller.
“I am a qualified tree surgeon. Myself and Alex Waller have officially joined up together now, a combination of joinery and tree surgery. I am a full time redneck that plays part time rugby,” said Tom.
“I was always into woodwork in school but when I got into rugby I went away from it a bit because I am kind of an obsessive personality. I had a bit of time away with an injury in 2012 and I started to pick up a few things. As I got more space I got more kit and as a hobby it just grew and grew.”
Tom is facing life after rugby with the same focus and application he showed on the pitch but does admit to a little emotion at the end of an era.
“Already it is fairly overwhelming with the support and congratulations and well wishers. I made my peace with retiring probably last year. I have been thinking about it. It has been on the backburner for a while that the reality was fast approaching.
“I have been planning in the background what is going to come after rugby. It has not been too much of a shock but you can’t help but feel a little bit saddened that this part of your life is over.
“I try not to worry too much about what could have been different. I don’t have any regrets or bad feelings.
“My parting message to the boys would be, this flies by, you have got to be prepared and take every opportunity that comes your way. You have got to have another mission after rugby too. It is not just about making money, it is finding something to get up for. You can’t replace the highs and lows but you have got to have something to get excited about.”