Barritt: Saracens are still focused on European success despite survival scrap

By Duncan Bech, PA

Brad Barritt insists Saracens are capable of retaining the Champions Cup alongside succeeding in their desperate fight for Gallagher Premiership survival.

The double winners are reeling from the 35-point deduction received for being in breach of salary cap regulations and enter Friday’s clash with Bath 26 points adrift of 11th-place Leicester.

Director of rugby Mark McCall must prioritise the Premiership while contending with the loss of a host of players to the Six Nations, but after sweeping aside the Ospreys 44-3, Barritt insists continental glory remains a viable objective.

“Europe is still an incredible focus for us,” said the club captain and former England centre, who made his comeback from six weeks out with concussion at Allianz Park on Saturday.

“We are still going into this competition wanting to win it. If we can get into a quarter-final, all bets are off.

“If there are three or four guys who can’t play on a weekend, so be it. But make no mistake, this Saracens team wants to win this trophy.

“The challenge now is different in that the last three or four years, Europe has been a priority.

“If players were available, we were trying to position them for Europe. This time we have got to unearth some new talent, other players not exposed to that level before.

“What will result from this is being a really unified and together bunch. There’s going to be adversity throughout the season.

“We’ve had challenges along the way over the last 12 years that I’ve been here. This is going to be as unique a challenge as any club’s going to face.

“But what I can say of my playing group and the leadership group around me is we are a hugely resilient bunch and a team that’s going to fight to the end.”

Barritt insists Saracens must take a pragmatic approach to securing top-flight survival.

“An old Sarries colleague used to say, how do you eat an elephant? It’s piece by piece,” he said.

“We can’t look further than we can see at this point. If we are too focused on what happens in May or June, we are going to get ourselves into trouble.”