Saracens to play aggressors in bid for Heineken Cup intensity

Saracens v Clermont, 4:30pm, Sky Sports 2, Sunday

Sunday afternoon sees Saracens take on Clermont Auvergne in the last of the Heineken Cup quarter finals. England and Saracens’ centre Brad Barritt is planning on using his recent experience at international level to ensure his side are not daunted by the intensity of these European fixtures, a possible cricitism levelled at them in last year’s competition.

“It’s the little bits of being under pressure that really carry you through these important games,”said Barritt. Having worked with two new coaches in Lancaster and Rowntree during his time with England, the Durban born 25-year old is confident that he is still improving.

“You’re always learning each day and playing with top class players at England, I think you should always look to learn from other people and grow your game. It’s been a great season for me.”

Clermont will come to Vicarage Road with some big French names such as Rougerie, Malzieu and Fofana and it will be down to Barritt to lead Saracens’ defensive line, a quality that was sorely lacking in their defeat to Harlequins at Wembley last Saturday.

“They’ve got some exceptional backs and we’ve worked hard on what we need to do and to impose our game. In the same light, we’ll bring the same aggression and determination in defence that we usually do.”

A decent crowd is expected to cheer on McCall’s side and the former Ulster player and coach is under no illusions as to how his side must perform. McCall said, “You cant expect to sit back and suck it up. You’ve got to take things to them, you’ve got to be the aggressors and that’s what we intend to do.

“We worked unbelievably hard to get through what was a tricky group. We won five out of our six games and these things dont come around too often – you get a home quarter final, it is an opportunity and it’s an opportunity we want to take.”

by Nick Heath