Focus is key if Saracens are to beat Ulster: Brad Barritt
Saracens, England and Lions centre Brad Barritt was complimentary towards Ulster as he looked forward to a second successive Heineken Cup quarter-final meeting with Mark Anscombe's team.
Twelve months ago, Saracens were deserving winners when the sides locked horns at Twickenham. On Saturday night at Ravenhill (6.30pm) they go head to head once more.
"I think each year is quite individual," Barritt said.
"Obviously we put in a really good performance, (last season) but we know we're going to have to raise it to a different level to win away at Ulster.
"They've been in fantastic form in the Heineken Cup and are deserved top-spot winners for the quarter-finals.
"As a team we've worked hard, we've built some momentum going into this game and it's now about us all nailing down our roles and making sure Saracens have a great day."
Barritt stressed the importance of staying focused and not being distracted by what he called 'the sideshows'.
"If you get drawn far too much into the sideshows across the pitch it can distract you from the game.
"As a team we thrive on playing in these arenas and it's obviously an honour to play at Ravenhill, so it's going to be an exceptional day and it's just making sure that we're focused on the task and don't get pulled into the sideshow."
Despite their reputation as an aggressive, forward-focused and hard rather than attractive team, Saracens have evolved into a side now capable of entertaining crowds rather than merely suffocating opponents.
Asked about that process, the midfielder explained: "There's been some minor tweaks to our attacking shape in the pre-season and it has proved very beneficial and has paid off in dividends -- the highest try-scorers and the highest bonus-point team in the Premiership.
"It speaks volumes for the hard work our attacking coaches -- Kev Sorrell and Mark (McCall) and Joe Shaw -- have put into the team.
"I think it's the subtle things that have allowed us to have this fluidity and not undo the hard work we've done in the past. Hopefully we can continue that momentum."
And outlining the progress Saracens have made in emerging as genuine Heineken Cup contenders against a backdrop of annual under-achievement by Premiership clubs on the European stage, he said: "We can't really speak on behalf of the other clubs but for us it has been a gradual building phase.
"We went from quarter-final losers to semi-final losers and we want to be Heineken Cup champions.
"But we can't look too far ahead; Ulster away is a huge task.
"As players and as a squad we're hungry for that success and doing that away at Ulster is definitely going to put us in a fighting position."