January is a key month for Saracens, says Du Plessis
12:54 31 December 2015
2015 Matthew Impey
Saracens forward Petrus du Plessis believes January will be a key month in the Premiership and in Europe – starting with Saturday’s showdown against Leicester at Allianz Park.
Sarries begin 2016 with a home game against the Tigers, who sit third in the top flight with only one defeat, and they then visit fourth-placed Harlequins before facing Ulster and Toulouse in back-to-back Champions Cup pool matches.
The reigning champions finish the month with a home game against Bath, who were their opponents in May’s Premiership final. And, although they top the league and have won each their 11 matches in all competitions so far this season, Du Plessis is not getting away.
“January is a big month for us,” he said. “This is a really tough time for us, playing some of the top-half teams in the Premiership and going back to face Ulster and Toulouse, so this is a part of the season where we’ve really got to focus.
“We’ve got some exceptional players and if we carry on doing what we’re doing we’ll have the results we want.
“[Our success] has just been about working really hard for each other. We’re a tight-knit group, it’s like a family, and you work so much harder for each other because we’re good friends.
“We’ve got the utmost respect for Leicester. We’ve always been rivals since 2009 and I think they’re a physical side and they’re playing really well at the minute.
“I think it’s going to be a really big contest on Saturday, up front and in all aspects of the game. It should be a really good spectators’ game so I would say people out there should come and have a look and watch a good game of rugby.”
Asked if he has any new year’s resolutions, Du Plessis said: “No, I probably just have to work off the Christmas dinner!
“We haven’t set any goals as such for the team for the new year. We’ll obviously work around some slight changes, with [forwards and defence coach] Paul Gustard moving to England, but nothing will change within the structure and the way we do things, and that should be a good challenge for us for the next half of the year.”
Meanwhile, Saracens have brought in two new faces, with England Under-20 head coach Ian Peel joining the staff and Scotland international forward Kieran Low arriving on loan from Glasgow Warriors for the rest of the season.
Peel, who has previously worked with Saracens’ Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje and George Kruis in the England youth ranks, will also assist the England senior team as their scrum coach for the 2016 Six Nations tournament.
Low moved from London Irish to Pro12 champions Glasgow in the summer but has only played three times and has moved back south.
Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, said: “With a few injuries and the expectancy that we will lose a few second-row forwards during the Six Nations, we are very happy to be able to bring Kieran into the group.”