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Saracens put 2014 European disappointment behind them

Published 14/05/2016

Billy Vunipola and Saracens are chasing the first leg of a trophy double
Billy Vunipola and Saracens are chasing the first leg of a trophy double

England star Billy Vunipola says Saracens' disappointing experience of a European final two years ago is "done and dusted" as they target Champions Cup glory on Saturday.

Victory for Saracens over Parisian side Racing 92 at the Grand Stade de Lyon would see them become England's first European champions since Wasps nine years ago.

It would also complete the first part of a possible domestic and European double, with an Aviva Premiership play-off looming against Leicester in seven days' time.

When they last went for European title success in 2014, Saracens were brushed aside 23-6 in Cardiff by a dominant Toulon team that had Jonny Wilkinson at the helm.

This time around, though, they aim to become the first team in history to win all nine games of a European campaign, in addition to lifting the trophy.

"I think we are really lucky to be in finals, and we all appreciate the stage that we are at now," number eight Vunipola said.

"I also think it 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.

"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 mind-set just to keep moving forward."

Vunipola recognises the danger of Racing fly-half and New Zealand World Cup winner Dan Carter but also knows a star-studded Racing outfit possess threats throughout the team.

"He (Carter) is obviously a big cog in their framework, and for us its trying to nullify him, but also the other many threats that they have," Vunipola added.

"They've got Chris Masoe, they've got Juan Imhoff, they've got Joe Rokocoko and also I think a key player for them is Maxime Machenaud.

"He is a tough little player and he's already said that they are coming out for revenge (Racing lost 12-11 to Saracens in last season's Champions Cup quarter-finals), so just a word of warning for the boys to look out."

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

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