Director of rugby Jim Mallinder has called on the Saints to repeat the feats of 2012 and 2013 when the back-to-back European Rugby Champions Cup clashes with Racing-92 head to Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.
In both those years the Saints suffered heavy defeats against Ulster and Leinster respectively, only to turn those around seven days later to record memorable wins over the same opposition.
This weekend has seen the team head back from Paris to nurse their wounds after shipping five tries to a Racing-92 outfit that featured World Rugby Player of the Year Dan Carter. But Mallinder says that the team has shown its character in the past, and has the ability to do so again on Friday night.
“We’ve said this season’s going to be tough, and that every single week is going to be a hard game,” he told SaintsTV at Stade Yves du Manoir. “Clearly Racing is a very very difficult place to play and it was a tough night for us.
“But we’ve shown in the past that we’re a resilient side and that we can come back from defeats, and that’s what we need to do.
“Racing are good, they went to Wales and got a bonus point so we know that they can play away from home. But we’ll prepare properly and hopefully we can turn them over.”
Mallinder also said that while losses are not what the players or coaches want, the experience of playing against the likes of Carter, Mike Phillips, Yannick Nyanga and Joe Rokocoko will stand the Saints’ youngsters in good stead in the future.
“It always helps to have international players in games like this against a side that’s full of them,” he said. “But that’s the way it is, and one of the big positives for us was that some of the younger players played really well.
“Tom Stephenson came into the side and was outstanding, JJ Hanrahan had a fine game and Teimana Harrison was everywhere and working hard until the very end.
“It’s disappointing not to have the big players, but hopefully this will be a good learning experience for some of those younger players.”
The back-to-back clashes with Racing-92 head to the East Midlands on Friday night for what is a vital game against the Parisian heavyweights. Your support will count, so snap up some of the final few hundred tickets at www.tinyurl.com/SAI-RAC-1516, using [email protected] to beat the match day queues and save the admin fees.