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Farrell backs Saracens to raise their game in knockout rugby

Owen Farrell is leaving Saracens at the end of the season to join French club Racing 92 (ROMAIN PERROCHEAU)
Owen Farrell is leaving Saracens at the end of the season to join French club Racing 92 (ROMAIN PERROCHEAU)

Owen Farrell insists English Premiership champions Saracens can put a regular season of fluctuating form behind them now they have extended their title defence into the play-offs.

Saracens are away to table-toppers Northampton in Friday's first semi-final, having lost seven league games this season.

A 20-10 defeat at home to Sale meant Saracens finished fourth in the standings and so must travel to Franklin's Gardens for their last-four tie.

Farrell, together with England team-mates Mako and Billy Vunipola, will leave Saracens when the six-time Premiership champions' campaign is finally finished.

But Saracens captain Farrell believes the advent of knockout rugby will give everyone at the London club a chance for a fresh start.

"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 32-year-old former England fly-half joins Paris-based Racing 92 at the end of Saracens' title defence but Farrell was, typically, adamant the focus should be on the team rather than his individual circumstances.

"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."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall paid tribute to Farrell, a key figure at the club for the best part of a decade, by saying: "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."

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