Settled Saracens offer new home to angry fans

Brad Barritt believes Saracens will need a ‘step up’ in current form to beat Clermont

Click to follow
The Independent Online

With almost 1,000 spectator places going spare at Saracens’ 10,000-capacity Allianz Park for the 28-21 win over Gloucester on Saturday, there was talk of wooing converts from their erstwhile neighbours Wasps.

“There is always an opportunity for a club to grow, that’s what every club’s aspiring to do,” said Brad Barritt, Saracens’ England centre. “It is a shame Wasps have had to move to Coventry but we wish them well there. For years Sarries were a bit nomadic; Watford never really felt like a home. As a team we truly feel this is a special place for us, one that raises our spirits and raises our performance.”

His team-mate Billy Vunipola, a former Wasp, said: “I think [Wasps’ move to Coventry] is something they had to do to stay afloat. It is tough on the fans [but] you can’t knock them for doing it.”

Barritt predicted it would need just such a “step up” if Saracens are to overcome next weekend’s visitors to Hendon – Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup.

Saracens expect their England fly-half Owen Farrell to be available to add to his injury-restricted 99 minutes of rugby this season, but there were new worries when the front-rowers Schalk Brits (ribs) and Kieran Longbottom (leg) were taken off. Gloucester led 13-3 in the opening quarter before a poorly executed chip-kick by Billy Twelvetrees allowed Sarries centre Chris Wyles to score an interception try.

Vunipola had knocked a few holes in Gloucester’s first-up defence that included his closest England rival, Ben Morgan. And when Chris Ashton scored on Alistair Hargreaves’ shoulder in the 61st minute, the result was assured.

“Clermont followed by Munster away are two daunting tasks,” Barritt said. “Clermont have got great individual players: Benson Stanley has played a bit at centre this season, and there’s Jonathan Davies and Wesley Fofana. We’ve had some great battles with them.”