Mallinder: Saints face ‘huge challenges’ in Champions Cup

Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says Saints will face ‘huge challenges’ in next season’s Champions Cup.

Mallinder’s men have been placed in Pool 3, alongside Racing 92, Glasgow Warriors and Scarlets.

They were beaten twice by Racing in the pool stages of last season’s competition, but still made the quarter-finals, where they were thrashed by Clermont Auvergne.

Saints last played Glasgow in the 2012/13 season, winning one and losing the other of their Heineken Cup meetings.

And they also have recent history with Scarlets, having beaten them in last season’s LV= Cup.

Mallinder is excited by the challenge that awaits his men, who will be desperate to grace the final at Lyon’s Stade des Lumières.

And he said: “You cannot expect any easy matches in the Champions Cup, especially when you are playing teams that are able to make the most of much bigger budgets, and we’re facing some huge challenges next season.

“Glasgow have been there or thereabouts for a number of years, and were deserved champions of the PRO12 last season.

“They have a strong culture in their squad and play some excellent rugby with the ability to attack from anywhere on the field, as we found out in January, 2013.

“Of course Racing are no strangers after our two matches last season. They had a good squad then, but have spent millions of Euros to bring in some of the best players in the world, not least Dan Carter, who joins them after the World Cup.

“Their budget means that they can afford to have two international players in every position, and their team will be formidable, regardless of who starts.

“We also know that the game against the Scarlets will be tough, just like every big Anglo-Welsh clash.

“They have a lot of Welsh internationals in their squad and are producing some good young players as well.

“They are three tough opponents for us, but this is why we want to play top level rugby and we’ll be relishing the challenge when the competition starts in November.”