March 8 2014 Latest news:
Exclusive by James Cunliffe
Monday, December 30, 2013
Jamie George has hailed the impact of Saracens’ summer signings in helping the transformation from two heartbreaking semi-final defeats last term to finishing the year top of the Premiership tree.
The Hendon side have led the way for the majority of this campaign and rubber stamped their dominance last weekend by dishing out champions Leicester Tigers’ heaviest ever defeat in the league with a six-try 49-10 demolition of the east Midlanders at Allianz Park.
They also avoided a potential banana skin by beating winless basement boys Worcester Warriors 26-8 at Sixways on Saturday to confirm their place as top dogs this year.
Rarely associated, in previous seasons, as a free-scoring side, Saracens also lead the other 11 sides in terms of tries and have already rattled in 35, compared to 41 for the whole of the last campaign.
That has added to the stubborn defence of seasons past and raised expectations that they can go that one step further, certainly domestically, after their last two glory bids ended in crushing fashion at the penultimate stage of both the Premiership and the Heineken Cup.
George said: “We made some brilliant signings – Richard Barrington and Tim Streather coming from the Championship have been unbelievable and both played amazingly well [against Leicester].
“But then we’ve got people like James Johnstone and Billy Vunipola that bring something else to our game, huge physicality and maybe that was something we were missing from seasons before, we don’t know.
“We are playing brilliant rugby at the minute and I think we’re in a very good place and very happy with that.”
Asked to asses 2013, George said: “We had a few setbacks at the end of last season. Losing in two semi-finals hurt us, especially that Northampton victory here [Allianz Park].
“It’s amazing the transformation that we’ve had and how we’ve been able to bounce back from that. We didn’t over-think those losses. We analysed them, obviously, but we came back fresh and had an unbelievable pre-season.
“Philip Morrow [performance director] and Andy Edwards [strength and conditioning coach] did a brilliant job with us on the conditioning side of things and then, from the beginning of this season we started playing some brilliant rugby.
“Believe it or not, we love scoring tries and I think we’ve shown that over the last few games particularly where we’ve scored some good tries and played some really good rugby.”