Owen Farrell believes Saracens will rise to challenge of knockout rugby

The current champions face table toppers Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.

Duncan Bech
Tuesday 28 May 2024 19:58 BST
Owen Farrell leaves Saracens at the end of the season (Nigel French/PA)
Owen Farrell leaves Saracens at the end of the season (Nigel French/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Owen Farrell insists Saracens are ready to shed the inconsistency that has defined their season as their Gallagher Premiership title defence reaches its moment of truth.

The current champions face table toppers Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night and enter the semi-final in uncharacteristically erratic form, underscored by seven league defeats.

A 20-10 home mauling by Sale sealed a fourth-placed finish, denying them a home play-off, and there is an end-of-an-era feel to the current title quest with Farrell and his England team-mates Billy and Mako Vunipola soon to depart.

But Saracens’ captain believes that the arrival of knockout rugby offers a clean slate.

“We’ve kind of been consistently inconsistent over the course of the season but there’s been bit of a change in mindset these last couple of weeks,” Farrell said.

“There’s a real hunger to get it right. And we’ve only got to get it right twice now, most importantly in this first game. We are clear where we want to be and we want to test that out on Friday night.

“We need to deal with the good and the bad because a big part of that consistency is being able to deal with what comes your way, which he have and we haven’t done this year.

“While the season has been different to what it’s normally like for us, we’re in the place we’re in now and we’re excited to get into Friday night.”

The six-time Premiership champions were paid an unexpected visit by Brad Barritt on Tuesday with their retired former captain receiving a cheer when he entered a squad meeting unannounced.

Barritt was a key par of the 2015 side that finished fourth in the league, defeated Northampton in the play-offs and then went on to topple Bath in the final. Farrell was also present that year and went on to replace Barritt as skipper.

The 32-year-old former England fly-half joins Racing 92 once Saracens’ Premiership defence is over but is reluctant to make this week about him.

“It’s more that it’s a big week for the club. I don’t think this defines anything for anybody personally,” Farrell said.

“It’s more about wanting to get the best out of what’s in front of us now. It’s a good challenge and it’s one we should be looking forward to, not thinking it could be all over.”

Director of rugby Mark McCall paid tribute to his outgoing captain, who has been the dominant figure at Saracens for at least a decade.

“Owen leads by example on the field but day to day here people listen when he speaks and there is a difference about him in weeks like this,” McCall said.

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