Apr 21, 2016
'We've paid our dues' says skipper Barritt ahead of Euro semi
Brad Barritt believes that the time is now for Saracens to fulfill their European potential as they head in to their mouth-watering Champions Cup semi-final against Wasps on Saturday.
The match will mark the 20th knockout game for the club in the past six seasons, their third European semi-final in the past four with the now-absent French giants Toulon and Clermont ending their quests between them year-on-year.
However, the Saracens centre believes that these previous experiences will stand them in good stead for success as this season’s campaign edges ever close to it’s climax.
"There has been a huge evolution in our European fixtures,” Barritt said. “It has gone from qualifying to getting through the pool stages to quarter-finals to semi-finals to a final and, again, to a semi last year.
“We have definitely spoken about this season being our time. We have paid our dues, we have learnt our lessons,” he said. “By no means is it going to win you the game but we feel those experiences over the past four seasons are going to stand us in great stead in these big fixtures.
“There’s that sense and an understanding that we know what we are about. We know we can dig ourselves out of tight situations. The big learning curve throughout our European campaign is that you need to find ways to win. Often it is a different way to what you expect.
“A point of difference for us is that we have got guys who have been in big games and big European fixtures that [means] we can take it to another level.”
Saracens stuttered past fierce rivals Northampton in the quarter-final stage, experiencing “tentative toes” as they found themselves behind for most of the match with Barritt citing these past experiences as a team helped them to get the result needed.
“In years past, it would have been hard to change that,” Barritt said. “The experiences that this team has been through has allowed us to adjust on the run and make sure we can find a way to win.”
Saracens are all to aware of the threat Wasps pose having been on the receiving end of a 64-23 demolition by the Coventry based side at Allianz Park back in February and despite the return of international stars, suspended players and those from injury, Barritt knows his side will have to be at the height of concentration for the whole 80 minutes.
“You need everyone to be switched on and alive to opportunities,” Barritt said.
“We showed against Clermont a few years ago at Twickenham that, when we turn it on, we can be unbeatable. You can’t have any moments where you switch off. That’s been a theme throughout the week. It is all 15 and all 23 being alive to every opportunity both in attack and defence.”