Owen Farrell sets sights on European glory for Saracens

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The Independent Online

Owen Farrell is targeting Heineken Cup glory after guiding Saracens to the Aviva Premiership title.

Saracens failed to progress from a tough group last season but they lurk as a team to avoid when the draw for the 2011/12 competition is made at Twickenham tomorrow.

Defending European champions Leinster will be first out of the hat followed by fellow top seeds Toulouse, Munster, Cardiff Blues, Biarritz and Leicester.

The six clubs will be allocated a pool each and then joined by a team from each of the next three tiers of seeds. Saracens are in the third tier.

But after producing a commanding individual performance as Saracens won their first English title with a victory over Leicester, Farrell predicted a bright future for the club.

"This club can be what it wants to be," said the 19-year-old, who will spend this summer playing for England at the Junior World Cup in Italy.

"We have created something special and this is the start of it.

"We want to go far in the Heineken Cup and we want to be in the Premiership final every year."

Saracens have strengthened their squad for next season with the signing of South Africa captain John Smit plus England international fly-half Charlie Hodgson.

Last season's runners-up Northampton are one of four English teams to be ranked as second seeds, having been edged out of the top bracket by east Midlands rivals Leicester.

The seeding system is based on performances in the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup over the past four years.

Both teams had the same ranking points but Leicester were confirmed as top seeds because Northampton had missed out on the Heineken Cup in 2008-09.

One frustrating anomaly for the Saints is that their 2009 Challenge Cup victory was only worth five points, compared to the six earned by subsequent champions Cardiff and Harlequins.

ERC increased the ranking points available for winning the Challenge Cup when the competition was restructured to include teams dropping down from the Heineken Cup.

That one extra point would have earned Northampton a top seeding. Instead they are grouped with Clermont Auvergne, Ospreys, Bath, Harlequins and London Irish.

Northampton are determined to bounce back from the disappointment of their dramatic Heineken Cup final defeat to Leinster.

"We are a good enough team to go away and build from it," said full-back Ben Foden.

"We have shown we can compete with some of the best teams in Europe. I think we are a good enough side to rebuild and make sure we are there or thereabouts again next season."

With Saracens in the third tier of seeds and French duo Racing Metro and Montpellier in the fourth, there is a potential group of death in the offing.

Irish province Connacht will make their Heineken Cup debut next season.