Semi-final experiences will help Saints against Saracens, says Myler

Saints lost to Saracens in a Premiership play-off semi-final at Franklin's Gardens in 2010
Saints lost to Saracens in a Premiership play-off semi-final at Franklin's Gardens in 2010

Stephen Myler says the experience gained from five successive Aviva Premiership play-off semi-finals will help Saints against Saracens on Saturday.

Jim Mallinder’s men have finished among the league’s top four in every season since 2009.

They lost their first Premiership play-off semi-final to Saracens in 2010 and two more final-four defeats followed in the next two years before the bad run was broken.

That semi-final win at Saracens in 2013 led to two successive final appearances, with Saints claiming their first title at the expense of Mark McCall’s men last May.

And on Saturday, they will renew their rivalry with the Barnet-based team in the bid to make it to Twickenham on May 30.

“It’s a huge game for us and we’re really looking forward to getting going,” said fly-half Myler, who was named man of the match in last year’s dramatic final win.

“Obviously we’ve had some good battles against Saracens over the years.

“I was here when we played them at home in a semi-final in 2010 and we’re obviously looking to reverse that (21-19) defeat, but a lot of things have come and gone since then.

“We’re very confident that if we play well enough we can go and win.”

It has been quite a journey for Saints since that salutary semi-final defeat to Sarries five years ago.

Mallinder’s side have gone from bridesmaids to brides, showing they can now consistently win the big games.

And Myler said: “A lot of faces have come and gone, but the core of the squad is still together and we’ve been through a lot and learned a lot over the years.

“We’re in much better standing now to cope with these games and we’re not taken by surprise by anything.

“The experience we have of these occasions will only stand us in good stead.”

So just what have this Saints side learned from so many semi-final appearances?

“What we have learned is we can’t just think we’re a team that wins these big games because we are Northampton Saints,” Myler said. “You have to go out and play better than your opposite number on the day.

“That’s something we’ve managed to do in recent years on the whole and that’s what our focus is this week, to go and play better than Saracens do and stop what threats they have and come out on top.

“The experience we’ve learnt is a game is 80 minutes and you often go behind but you can come back and go ahead. You can get pegged back, it’s a long slog, sometimes it takes 100 minutes as it did last year.

“We won’t give up and we’ll give everything in our power to come out on top, as we did last year.”

Myler was this week named in England’s 50-man Rugby World Cup training squad.

He will be competing with the likes of George Ford, Danny Cipriani and Owen Farrell for the No.10 shirt.

But Myler insists his battle with Saracens star Farrell will not be in his mind this weekend.

“It’s not any extra incentive to me, my incentive is to get my team to the final and focus on my job,” he said. “Owen’s obviously going to be thinking the same thing for his team.

“It’s not about individual rivals for me, my focus is on helping my team do their best and if I do that we’re more than capable of putting in a good performance and we’re confident of winning.