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Relaxed Saracens determined to enjoy tilt at Champions Cup glory

Published 13/05/2016

Fly-half Owen Farrell will be a key part of Saracens' bid for European Champions Cup success against Racing 92 on Saturday
Fly-half Owen Farrell will be a key part of Saracens' bid for European Champions Cup success against Racing 92 on Saturday

Saracens are determined to put an emphasis on enjoyment and excitement this weekend when they bid to become champions of Europe.

The Aviva Premiership title holders face a second major European final in three seasons, lining up against Champions Cup opponents Racing 92 at the Grand Stade de Lyon on Saturday.

When they last went for European glory two years ago, Saracens were brushed aside 23-6 in Cardiff by a dominant Toulon team that had Jonny Wilkinson at its helm.

This time around, though, they aim to become the first team in history to win all nine games of a European campaign, before resuming Premiership business against play-off opponents Leicester next weekend.

Wasps were the last English European title holders in 2007, while they also achieved a domestic and European double three years earlier, which are both feats that Saracens could match during the next fortnight.

"Since two years ago when we played in that last final, we've grown a lot as a team," Saracens' England international fly-half Owen Farrell said.

"Our form throughout this season has been good, and not only that, our preparation leading into these big games in Europe and in the league has been spot-on.

"We are just looking to perform the best we can tomorrow, and we will see where that takes us.

"You just try to concentrate on what is in front of you. This week has been exciting for everyone who is involved. Everyone is just looking forward to tomorrow.

"It is not about what's happened for the rest of this year, or what's after tomorrow. It is about tomorrow.

"We have done our preparation now, and we've just got to relax. Take in the occasion, but just remember it is a game of rugby at the end of the day."

Farrell and his half-back partner Richard Wigglesworth are among eight survivors from Saracens' 2014 European final starting XV.

And Wigglesworth said: "We are definitely more relaxed this time around.

"The coaches have done a good this week in keeping it just as humorous and relaxed as we usually are, really.

"A couple of years ago, we weren't like that. We were probably a little bit tense, but there has definitely not been that feeling in the camp this week. It has been just as enjoyable as any other week.

"The few chances we do get, we are going to have to take and put them (Racing) under a bit of pressure.

"Attack is the hardest part of the game to get right. It is governed by so many things - the weather, the referee, the oppositiion.

"It is something we have worked hard on this year, and hopefully it will bear fruit tomorrow."

Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola added: "I t has taken a lot of hard work to get here, and I think it is testament to all the hard work the boys have put in, the coaches and everyone else.

"But we we are not really thinking about two years ago - that's done and dusted. We have learnt from that, I feel, and we look forward to the challenge that lies ahead on Saturday.

"I think we just feel more ready right now.

"We topped the seedings coming into the knockout stages, which we've never really done before, I don't think, and also we have just managed to carry on winning.

"I think it is credit to the boys for having that mindset just to keep moving forward."

Farrell, meanwhile, played down the hype surrounding his fly-half contest with New Zealand World Cup winner Dan Carter, which is viewed by many as Saturday's key individual contest.

"There is no doubt he is a brilliant player," Farrell added.

"I am sure that any fly-half would look up to him, but it is not about a fly-half versus a fly-half tomorrow, it is about two good teams playing for the trophy.

"It's about the collective effort from both teams, and who comes out on top there."

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