Sam Francis speaks to Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell and James Short at a Gatorade training session.
As Saracens come to the business end of the Aviva Premiership season there is a buzz of confidence building around Vicarage Road – and with good reason.
After Sunday’s performance against Gloucester, the Londoners have moved to within one point of table-leaders Leicester Tigers and have secured a home semi-final with a top two finish – as well as setting a club record of nine straight wins in the premiership.
“We’ve been playing winning rugby of late and everyone’s confident about what we can do, everyone just needs to put the work in.” Winger James Short told The Rugby Blog.
Ahead of Saracens’ trip to Harlequins for their last game of the regular season these are sentiments shared by the Saracens’ young Fly-Half, and son of ex-England international Andy Farrell, Owen Farrell: “It doesn’t really matter who we have, we’d be ready for it. We’re a team that thinks we can beat anybody on our day. And that‘s the mentality we have going in to every game.”
Despite all this enthusiasm the memory of last year’s agonising loss to Leicester in the Premiership final, which saw Saracens relinquish the lead with just two minutes left, is still fresh.
“It was hugely disappointing last year, having been in a position to take the Premiership title and not finishing it off,” remembers Saracens young centre Brad Barritt. “But it’s all about this year now and making that fairy tale come true and taking it one step further.”
Barritt knows how different the knock out stages of the Premiership can be, but believes the Saracens have what it takes to go all the way once again this year.
“There is definitely more of an edge to a semi-final or a final and the core lines tend to be a lot closer. You have to be clinical with the ball and one error can cost you everything. But it’s an opportunity for people to really step up and show their worth.”
Indeed, their rich run of form has coincided with the rise of many of Saracens’ young players – such as Barritt, Farrell and Short – into the first team and showing what they’re worth.
Despite the impending semi final the pressure seems to be having little effect on the Saracens’ youngsters.
“At this level every game is a massive game and we just treat them all the same. If you don’t you end up slipping up, and that’s what some other teams do. We’re a team that when we play on the day we can beat anybody no matter where it is,” Farrell believes.
Saracens are not only about their youth contingent – the old heads of Steve Borthwick, Ernst Joubert and Carlos Nieto will be just as crucial as they mount their challenge to reach this year’s final.
But with such wise words coming from so many of their young heads, Saracens will be looking to their youngsters to step up at the forefront of their campaign.
By Sam Francis
Saracens RFC is one of a series of AVIVA Premiership Rugby clubs working with Gatorade to encourage players of all levels to stay ahead of the game and improve their performance. Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt and James Short were at Saracens training ground filming a series of coaching videos to be featured online next month. Gatorade is the official hydration partner of the AVIVA Premiership.