Apr 07, 2016
Euro Preview: McCall looks ahead to Saints test
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is hoping Saracens’ collective experience in Europe can give them the edge over Northampton Saints ahead of his side’s European Champions Cup quarter final at Allianz Park on Saturday, kick-off 17h45.
McCall has guided Saracens into the last eight of European rugby’s premier competition for the last five seasons, with the Allianz Park based side now preparing for their first home European quarter final to be staged at their Barnet base.
After a run to the semi-finals in 2008, Saracens have been involved in knock-out European rugby since 2012 when they were defeated by ASM Clermont Auvergne. Since then the north Londoners have gone on to win three quarter finals on the bounce and McCall is hoping Saracens experience accrued in continental competition will serve them well for Saturday’s game.
Speaking ahead of the game, McCall said: “I think that over the four year period this is our fifth consecutive quarter final, and during that period we have gained experience in the competition and played in a lot of knock-out matches in the competition and maybe four years ago when we got into our first quarter final (vs ASM Clermont Auvergne) we weren’t quite ready and we were dealt a bit of a lesson by Clermont at home at Vicarage Road. But each year I think we’ve become a little bit stronger, a little bit better and the players that we have are more experienced than they’ve ever been playing in these big matches. It doesn’t actually mean that you’re going to win because of those things but because you’ve been there and done it, it can give you a better opportunity.”
McCall also praised Saturday’s opponents Northampton Saints for their ‘resilience’ on the eve of the game, with the Saints turning around a tough start to the season to qualify for the last eight in Europe.
“Northampton are playing really well and have shown a lot of resilience,” said McCall. “In the Champions Cup they have also shown resilience to get in to the last eight and they are the qualities you expect from this kind of side – they’re a good team.”