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Farrell hails ferocious Burger

Jacques Burger's tackling frenzies can spur Saracens to Heineken Cup glory, according to fly-half Owen Farrell.

England playmaker Farrell hailed Burger's match-winning 27-tackle blitz in Saturday's 46-6 Heineken Cup semi-final demolition of Clermont Auvergne.

Saracens' six-try rout at Twickenham set both a record total and winning margin for a Heineken Cup semi-final, in the competition's last season.

The north Londoners will step into their first-ever Heineken Cup final in Cardiff on May 24.

Former Blue Bulls flanker Burger was almost forced into retirement by chronic knee trouble that first sidelined him for 18 months and now leaves him icing the joint every day.

Saracens proved superior to Clermont in every department on Saturday, but Farrell admitted Burger's defensive zeal led the charge.

"I'm glad he's not tackling me," said Farrell, relieved to have the 30-year-old Namibia back-rower in the Saracens ranks.

"You talk about putting your body on the line, there's no one that does it more than him.

"He's mental to be fair, but he's a massive asset for us."

Top of the Aviva Premiership table with two regular-season matches left to play, Saracens have not shied away from chasing an impressive silverware double.

Farrell said the Allianz Park squad appreciate the lengths to which Burger will stretch to keep his knee trouble in check, even if opponents do not.

"When you see people hitting like that it makes you want to do it," said 22-year-old Farrell.

"And it's not just that, I know if I was playing against him, you'd be looking for where he is all the time, because you wouldn't want him hitting you from the blindside.

"There were some overlaps that they had out there, and he got off the line and put some good pressure on people - and you can tell people know he's coming."

Farrell's recovery from foot trouble proved vitally important to Saracens' weekend victory, especially coupled with Charlie Hodgson's absence with a calf knock.

The 24-cap outside-half ceded goal-kicking duties to Alex Goode, and the England full-back duly slotted 13 points with the boot.

Farrell said his injury played no part in handing Goode the kicking duties, admitting he feels fresh for the business end of the season.

"I've trained fully for two weeks, but I've not done as much kicking," he said.

"We made the decision the other day, but Alex kicked very well so ultimately it was fine.

"We've always been prepared to put our bodies on the line for each other, we've always been a tight-knit group that wants to work hard for each other and over the years we've just got better and better.

"It's just evolved, not just our defence, but our attack, our kicking game and everything that goes with it.

"We want to get better, it's all about making sure that we're a team that doesn't pick and choose when we turn up, it's all about learning what we can from this game and making sure we get better.

"And that's how it's going to be for a long, long time hopefully.

"We'll enjoy this win, it's a big occasion for us, but we want to be used to this, we want to get better, and go on again and show what we can do in the final."


From Belfast Telegraph