Belfast Telegraph

McCall has taught Saracens players to enjoy the ride, says skipper Barritt

 

By Gavin McCafferty

Saracens captain Brad Barritt is more concerned with "enjoying the ride" than creating a legacy as his team bid for consecutive Champions Cup triumphs.

Ulsterman Mark McCall's side go into their clash with Clermont Auvergne in Edinburgh with the prospect of a 'double double' still alive.

After winning the Aviva Premiership twice in a row, Saracens are on the verge of going down as one of the great teams in English and European rugby history, but it is the here and now that Barritt wants to focus on.

When asked if he had thought about their legacy, the 30-year-old said: "To be honest, it's not something that we actually talk about. We talk about enjoying the ride.

"A big lesson we learned last year was at the culmination of the season, you have this euphoria for two days and then it dissipates and dies down and you start thinking towards next season.

"The more you actually think about it, the enjoyment comes from the journey, the procedure of getting there, the step-by-step process of achieving something you set out to do.

"That's the way we have attacked this year - we wanted to learn, improve and get better as a team.

"We made it pretty clear we weren't going to be a flash in the pan. But we have never spoken in terms of how great a legacy we want to create."

Saracens' Champions Cup final triumph against Racing 92 last year was built on adversity after losing at the same stage against Toulon two years earlier.

Their opponents today at BT Murrayfield experienced the exact same fate both at the beginning and end of Toulon's hat-trick of triumphs and are looking to prove they can also learn from falling at the final hurdle.

But Barritt is confident his side have the ability to last the pace against the French side, who are renowned for making fast starts.

The South African-born England international said: "One thing we pride ourselves on at Saracens is being relentless and being resilient. Those are two key characteristics that we pride ourselves on, to carry on when the chips are up or the chips are down, to keep fighting and having the resilience when you have setbacks to come back fighting.

"That's been the evolution of this team. We have learned through experience. We have learned the hard way and gradually built up this European pedigree. It doesn't happen overnight. It's been gradual improvement and the understanding of how to finish games off.

"We are nowhere near the finished article, we still have a long way to go, but as players we pride ourselves on being able to stay in the fight the whole game."

Sean Maitland was ruled out of the final earlier this week after suffering an ankle injury, but his absence sees fellow Scotland international Duncan Taylor make the 23-man squad, alongside Jim Hamilton on the bench.

- Ulster Juniors only need a bonus point against Leinster this afternoon to clinch the Inter-Pro title for the second time in three seasons.

Going into the final game they have a five points advantage over both Leinster and Munster but any of the three provinces can still win the championship. Munster will be expected to gain five points against lowly Connacht so it all comes down to the outcome of the clash at Longford.

Ulster, after their wins over Munster (20-3) and Connacht (34-5), make two changes to a side that again includes six Coleraine players.

Omagh's Neil Brown makes his first appearance on the right wing while Grosvenor's influential Allen McCluggage returns to scrum-half.

Leinster, after their disappointing performance in the 30-15 defeat against Munster last weekend, make four changes.

Belfast Telegraph

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