Mallinder insists Saints are relishing Leinster showdown

Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Jim Mallinder insists Saints are not daunted by facing Leinster on Friday night.

Mallinder’s men go into the Champions Cup double-header against the Irish giants on the back of two defeats.

They suffered a disappointing loss at home to Newcastle Falcons before being beaten 19-11 at local rivals Leicester Tigers last Saturday.

And Leinster will provide a huge test for Saints, who lost to the Guinness Pro12 side 40-7 at the Gardens back in December 2013.

When asked what sort of shape he feels his side are in ahead of this week’s clash, Mallinder said: “Clearly you want to be winning and playing well going into Leinster home and away, but we’re not there.

“Up to the Newcastle game, we’d won our last four games but now it’s put us back a bit.

“We’ve got two tough games, but we’re going to look forward to it.

“To play at this level, you’re always going to play demanding teams.

“Leicester away is always going to be tough, but we competed and we’ll certainly compete this week.”

Mallinder will have his England stars back for this week’s clash, which comes eight days before Saints go to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium to face Leinster.

And the director of rugby will be hoping to have Louis Picamoles fit and firing after the French star came off in last week’s bruising battle at Welford Road.

“He’s had a few tough weeks,” Mallinder said.

“He’s played in some massive matches and playing against the All Blacks last week was a physically demanding game.

“We’re really pleased he could front up on Saturday and contribute.”