Saracens' unique trump card over Leinster
CHAMPIONS CUP, QUARTERFINALS: European champions Saracens can partly salvage their traumatic season with a victory over Leinster on Saturday in the “only game that really means anything”, according to wing Sean Maitland.
The New Zealand-born Scotland three-quarter is one of several established stars to have opted to stay at the club despite relegation from the English Premiership over salary cap breaches.
However, while they go through the motions of rounding off their domestic campaign, the postponed quarter-final with the four-time European champions in Dublin has kept them motivated.
“In the back of the mind, we’ve always had this Leinster game,” said Maitland. “It’s the only game that really means anything to us.”
The 32-year-old has already won the trophy twice – including the 20-10 win over the Irish province in Newcastle last year.
He is delighted that while several starters have moved on since the season resumed, league games have given other squad members much-needed top-level playing time.
“It’s been so good for our young lads to get experience,” said Maitland. “For the older boys like me, we’ve been building up to this game as the one with real significance.”
*Article continues below…
We wish you were joining us in Dublin on Saturday but we know you’ll be shouting at your TVs back at home 🐺
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) September 15, 2020
Maitland, who played for New Zealand at under-20 level, said victory against a side unbeaten since 2019 final would mean a huge amount.
“It would be amazing to beat Leinster given how the season has gone and the adversity we’ve had to put up with,” he said. “That would be pretty special.”
Another veteran, Alex Goode, who is likely to fill the vacuum at fly-half left by the suspended Owen Farrell, said they were not travelling feeling like were underdogs.
Leinster are buoyant after easing to a third successive Pro14 title against Ulster.
“We are not going there thinking ‘oh we have to hang in there and win’,” said Goode, who is moving to Japan’s NEC Green Rockets on loan at the end of the season.
“We are going in there to say ‘we have beaten you before and we can beat you again,” the 32-year-old added.
Goode said he hoped Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and the other Leinster stars will still be scarred from the defeat last year.
“We are the last team to beat them and they’re aware of that,” said Goode.
“We hope that it sits in their minds that we have the capability to beat them, which psychologically does something for us.”