Following last week’s friendly at Bedford Blues, Saints returned to intense training this week ahead of Saturday’s sold out derby with Leicester Tigers and look to challenge for a top four place as the season enters it’s last five rounds.
Kieran Brookes says that having the last two weeks without the pressure of a league game has been good for Saints but said that they’re ready to get back to playing and challenging for the top four spots, starting with Leicester on Saturday.
“It’s very exciting to be back at the Gardens,” Brookes commented.
“All the lads had a good couple of days off two weeks ago and then we took a bit of a beasting last week in training.
“We had a lot of fitness and just got back into the swing of things. Then the intensity of training this week has been massive. Everyone’s just raring to go this weekend.
“We’re just trying to take it a game at a time. Obviously we’re looking to get the win this weekend and then after that anything could happen depending on results.”
Having a capacity crowd at Franklin’s Gardens is a huge boost, Brookes commented, saying that Saints have been working hard to try to give them something to cheer about against Leicester.
“In the last couple of minutes of the first half and the last ten minutes of the game, in those massive moments, it makes a massive difference when the crowd get behind you. They’re the sixteenth man.
“We pride ourselves in our home performances. We try to give the crowd something to cheer about and hopefully we can carry that on this weekend.”
But not having recorded a win over Leicester in the last seven meetings, Saints last claiming victory in the Aviva Premiership semi-final in 2014, Brookes says that while the team are disappointed with the recent record, they are hopeing their luck can change this weekend in what will be a physical, forwards dominated battle.
“It’s not been amazing but that’s something we’re looking to rectify. It’s not a nice record to have and hopefully we can change that this weekend.
“It definitely starts up front, the scrum, lineout and set piece is massive. It’s something that Leicester pride themselves on and something that we pride ourselves on so it should be a good battle.”
Though Saints have enjoyed two pressure free weeks, Leicester have had something of the opposite, playing in the knock-out rounds of the Anglo-Welsh Cup and eventually lifting the trophy last weekend at Twickenham Stoop.
Brookes does not believe that either run in to the game is better, rather stating that because of Saturday’s fixture being a local derby, both teams will be firing on all cylinders and ready for the occasion.
“You could say that we might be a bit rusty after having a couple of weeks off or you could say that they’re a bit tired after two big games but I think no matter what has happened in the last couple of weeks both teams are going to be absolutely raring to go this weekend with it being a local derby.”