Barritt targets another piece of history as Saracens bid to end Toulon’s unbeaten home record in Europe
PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 October 2016
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Saracens captain Brad Barritt wants to make history again as the Hendon-based club start their Champions Cup title defence by attempting to end Toulon’s unbeaten home record in Europe.
Sarries won the continental crown for the first time last season and, in the process, became the first team to remain undefeated throughout the tournament.
They face a tough test in their Pool 3 opener on Saturday, travelling to face a Toulon side that lifted the trophy three times in a row between 2013 and 2015 and have never been beaten at their Stade Mayol home in European competition.
However, Barritt says the prospect of breaking that record will only help to motivate and inspire Saracens’ players.
“It always does,” he told Ham&High Sport. “I think over the past seven seasons this team’s always prided itself on going to places where things haven’t been done before, and this is just another challenge for us.
“We know Toulon are a fantastically talented team and they’re going to be very difficult opponents but we’re going there confident and really looking forward to playing in their arena.
“I think we’ve always thrived on going into the arenas and places that are quite hostile and we know Toulon will be no different. It’s one we always look forward to and it’s going to be a huge challenge for this team but one we’re prepared for.
“To start the European campaign away against Toulon, it doesn’t get more difficult, or more exciting.
“Our form’s been very good in Europe over the past five seasons. We’ve been in the play-offs in the past five years so we’ve gradually improved and I think by clinching the title this year it’s put us at the top of the table, but we start from scratch again now and that’s the most important thing – to take one game at a time.”
Saracens go into their European showdown as the Premiership leaders, having won their top-of-the-table clash at home against Wasps on Sunday and leapfrogged their rivals to reclaim pole position.
Mako Vunipola and Mike Ellery touched down in the first half and hooker Jamie George then crossed the whitewash twice to establish himself as the top flight’s most prolific try-scorer as Mark McCall’s side triumphed 30-14 at Allianz Park and ended Wasps’ winning start to the campaign.
“It was a fantastic performance,” said Barritt. “Along with our away game at Exeter, it was probably our best performance of the season – it’s between those two.
“I’m very pleased with how all the elements of our game married up and I think it was great preparation ahead of the huge game this weekend against Toulon.”