Saracens fly-half, Owen Farrell, has warned his teammates that they will have ‘to be ready for anything,’ as they look to defend their European Champions Cup title in the quarter-final against Glasgow Warriors at Allianz Park on Sunday.
The double champions have left nothing to chance as they look to replicate their feats of last season and even though they inflicted on Bath their worst league defeat in 15 years last weekend when winning 53-10, they spent their first training session in the build-up to Sunday’s all important tie dwelling on the mistakes made in that eight-try Premiership victory.
After England’s loss to Ireland Farrell is all too aware that of the pitfalls of expectation and appreciates that, even though they start favourites with home advantage, knockout rugby is an unforgiving format.
“There is a lot at stake for us this weekend,” said Farrell, sporting a weal over his right eyebrow from stitches inserted following the Bath game.
“We have learnt a lot of lessons from this competition down the years and we have to make sure we improve from the Bath game if we want to get anywhere near the final. We are not where we think we are at. That final is a long, long way away for us at the moment and we have to be ready for anything against Glasgow. They have a lot of threats and their backs can punish you from anywhere. We’ve got to make sure that there are no lapses in our concentration and that we are on it for 80 minutes. If we’re not, we will get found out. We will have to be on our mettle. ”
Glasgow Warriors are in uncharted territory in their first appearance in the knockouts, familiar turf for Saracens who have won through to this stage in the last sixth seasons, twice reaching the final, triumphing over Racing 92 in Lyon last season.
They are at full strength for Sunday’s encounter barring long-term absentees such as lock, George Kruis, whom director of rugby, Mark McCall, believes is still in with strong consideration for a Lions place even though the England second-row will not be back in action until the end of the season following knee surgery.
“George is the best lineout caller and that gives him a string to his bow when it comes to the Lions,” said McCall, who is also without, flanker, Schalk Burger and back, Chris Wyles.
The re-integration of the international players has given the team a boost after two defeats in the Premiership during their absence. There was no time for licking wounds for the England players.
“You have got to sink your teeth straight back into it with Saracens, helping out and trying to make an impact,” said Farrell, who was part of the basketball games that took place prior to Tuesday training. “A change of environment is refreshing. Ireland was tough and it’s not the best losing one but it does happen. There is no time to reflect on those things here. You’re straight back into it, Glasgow will be really fired up for it and we have to be too. Everyone is in a good place here.”