Saints seek Saracens win in bid to crown big week

Dorian West and Jim Mallinder have recruited some stellar names since arriving at Saints in 2007 (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Dorian West and Jim Mallinder have recruited some stellar names since arriving at Saints in 2007 (picture: Sharon Lucey)

If ever a week summed up Saints’ intent, this is it.

On Monday, the club captured France star Louis Picamoles, a player described as ‘world class’ by director of rugby Jim Mallinder, who added that the signing was a ‘real coup’.

And on Saturday, the development off the field will be there for all to see, when Saints run out in front of the new Barwell Stand in a competitive fixture for the first time.

For fans of the east midlands club, who have finished in the top four of the Aviva Premiership for six successive seasons, the good times keep rolling.

And now all those supporters will want is to see their team overcome a sluggish start to the season by christening the Barwell Stand in the best possible style - by ‘stuffing’ Saracens, to use the words Mallinder chose when speaking bullishly at a recent fans’ forum.

“It’s a big day,” Mallinder said.

“We’re a little bit disappointed with our start,

not gelling as we’d have wished.

“We’ve played some good rugby at times, especially against Newcastle and some of the stuff last weekend (in the 20-13 defeat at Sale) was good, but we just need to put in an 80-minute performance on Saturday.

“The club is ambitious and it’s growing, and what’s happened over the summer on and off the field is a reflection of that.

“We’ve seen the stand go up, day by day, week by week, and it’s impressive. It really does make the ground one of the best in England, if not Europe, and we’ve also got good additions to our squad as well.

“We just need to make sure we can gel as a team.”

Since 2013, Saints have announced the signings of George North, Kahn Fotuali’i, Alex Corbisiero, Victor Matfield and Louis Picamoles, among others.

They went on to win the Premiership title and the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2014 before topping the league table for the first time in the club’s history last season.

They are desperate to keep living up to those standards, but, as defeats at Worcester and Sale have already shown this season, it is no easy task.

“The signings we’ve made show that the club is ambitious, but we’re very aware that it’s not about names, it’s not about individual players - it’s about how well the team gels and plays together and for each other.

“That’s what we’re very conscious of and that’s what we know we need to do to take on a very powerful Saracens team.”

Saracens showed their strength by winning at the Gardens last season, crushing Saints title dreams in a 29-24 play-off semi-final success.

But Mallinder said: “Similar to us, they’ve got big names, strength in depth and they play well as a group.

“We’ve had some tremendous battles over the years. We beat them home and away last year, but they won the big one in the semi-final.

“It’s going to be close on Saturday but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”