Owen Farrell relishing chase for silverware with Saracens
Owen Farrell is relishing a final two-month push to Saracens' season and their bid for a prized title double that no English club has achieved since 2004.
Farrell and four of his fellow England Grand Slam heroes - Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje and George Kruis - returned after a trophy-laden RBS 6 Nations campaign to spearhead Saracens' blistering 36-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Exeter.
By emphatically seeing off their title rivals, Saracens regained top spot in the Premiership from the Chiefs in their penultimate league game before a European Champions Cup home quarter-final against Northampton.
And such was the all-round excellence of Saracens' display at Allianz Park, it underlined how an English and European double last won by Wasps 12 years ago appears within reach.
"They are big games," said Farrell, who orchestrated Exeter's demise through a brilliant individual display.
"You don't feel like you have to pull yourself out of bed to get up for a game against Exeter, and next week we've got Bath away and then Northampton in the quarter-final in Europe.
"It is easy for us to come back into this. Everyone was excited this week to get playing with the boys and to put a good performance in. It is good that we did that.
"We've just come back (from England duty) and cracked on with it.
"Everyone wants to get better here, and that is all everybody wants to do at England. It is just a case of getting on with what's in front of you.
"To have nine lads away in a period where there is no break between Premiership games is tough for any team."
Saracens chairman Nigel Wray used his programme notes for the Exeter match to urge that England games and Premiership fixtures be played at different times, citing the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby and Test schedules as an example of how such a model works.
"Our supporters don't get to see some of the best players in the land for probably one-third to one-half of the season. The southern hemisphere has worked it out so that their Super Rugby season does not compete with international series," Wray said.
"It is absolutely essential that we organise our season so that the Premiership is not seen as some second-rate product to the Six Nations, but we play at different times and support, rather than compete with, each other.
"We need to work together, not against each other, but the drive has to come from the Premiership clubs, the ones being wounded, the ones seeing their product downgraded."
Asked about Wray's views on separating domestic and international schedules, Farrell added: "It's not something I've thought about. It's different this year.
"There have been eight weeks of Premiership games (with the Six Nations players away). Normally there's, what, four? This is a different year because of the World Cup.
"It will be a tough period for some clubs, yeah. They are the cards you are dealt. We just get on with what we've got to do."