Northampton Saints: James Grayson and Tom Wood lead the fight against online abuse

Northampton stand-off James Grayson's dad Paul scored 400 points for England in 32 appearances
Northampton stand-off James Grayson's dad Paul scored 400 points for England in 32 appearances

Premiership players are afraid of making mistakes in games for fear of facing abuse on social media, says Northampton fly-half James Grayson.

Saints are using Friday's game with London Irish to raise awareness for their foundation which supports young people with mental health issues.

Fans have been urged by the clubexternal-link not to "overstep the line" on social media.

"You all want that moment in the limelight, to kick the goal and win the World Cup," Grayson told BBC Look East.

"But you don't think necessarily as a kid as to how bad it will be if you miss.

"Sat having a flick through Twitter, that's when you see it [abuse] and that's when you struggle to get to sleep."

As Saints kicker, 22-year-old Grayson is used to dealing with the pressure of moments that can win or lose matches.

He points to what is said online about players at international level on a regular basis.

"They're all human. But the fact that you can't escape from it unless you turn your phone off is quite sad," Grayson said.

"So much as you don't read stuff or go on fans forums, you're still just two clicks away and you can occasionally find yourself scrolling through to the point where you are thinking 'I hope I don't cock up this weekend'."

Northampton loose forward Tom Woods won the most recent of his 50 England caps in 2017
Northampton loose forward Tom Wood won the most recent of his 50 England caps in 2017

Grayson's Northampton team-mate Tom Wood says he understands supporters' frustrations when things do not go well for the team, but it is "never through lack of effort".

"If you're not prepared to say it to their face then you shouldn't just throw it out there on social media," he said.

"The really bad ones are the ones behind an avatar and an anonymous profile, with nothing constructive to say. Just abuse when things aren't going well."

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