FEATURE INTERVIEW | Austerberry up for the Cup!
The Allianz Premiers15s league campaign may be on hold while the Tik Tok Six Nations takes centre stage, but Saracens Women’s head coach Alex Austerberry won’t be putting his feet up over the next six weeks.
He may have 13 players away on Six Nations duty, but he also has an Allianz Cup game to prepare for as well as planning for a grandstand finish to the league campaign. The Women in Black’ have already guaranteed top spot in the Allianz Premier15s table with two regular games to go and will have the luxury of a home semi-final.
“We gave the player a down week last week and we’ve been getting them back up to speed over the last five days. We welcome Exeter Chiefs to the StoneX Stadium on Saturday and that is going to be a big game for us,” said Austerberry.
“We’ve been using the Allianz Cup to blood some of our younger players and those on the fringes of the senior side. With 14 players away on international duty, and a few others out injured, it will be an opportunity for players to show us what they can do.
“Exeter are very much in the race for the Premier15s title and we have to play them in our penultimate game in the league after the Six Nations. That’s why it will be such a good test for us.
“We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience. To come into a Saracens side and be able to play alongside the likes of ‘Sonic’ Green, who is in her 20th season at the club, and Rocky Clark, who has been to four World Cups, is huge for the younger players.
“As well as the senior internationals, were missing the injured Georgia Evans and Cara Wardle, while Kelsey Clifford is away for a couple of weeks with England U20. We’ve definitely benefitted from having these Cup games this season and they have allowed us to develop greater strength in depth.”
The game is also on the radar for the Spanish tight head prop Jeanina Loyola to make a gradual return after a lengthy period on the touchline with injury. Her safe return to action would be another huge boost for the team as they head into the key period of the season.
“We’ve got a few other players with bumps and bruises, but given the competitive nature of the season I think we are in pretty good shape. I just hope we don’t suffer any major problems when the players are playing in the Six Nations,” added Austerberry.
“The important thing is for the remainder of the squad to keep standards high in training so that when the international players return they realise they are in a battle for their places. The stronger the competition for places within the squad, the better the output is on the field.”