Saracens captain relishes clash with South African outfit Blue Bulls at Allianz Park
PUBLISHED: 12:03 29 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:03 29 January 2015
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Saracens welcome South African franchise the Blue Bulls to Allianz Park on Saturday for another northern hemisphere vs southern hemisphere clash in north London.
The Blue Bulls, who start their Super XV campaign next month, fly into London today (Thursday) and have named a squad that includes 15 South African internationals – including Victor Matfield, Handre Pollard and Pierre Spies.
Saracens will also name their strongest possible side as they look to make it three wins from three in clashes against South African sides, following victories against Western Province and the Sharks in the past 12 months.
The showdown against the side from Pretoria has added importance for the South African players in the Saracens squad, including captain Alistair Hargreaves.
“The Blue Bulls have long been one of the leading teams in the southern hemisphere, and it will be a great thrill for us players and our supporters to welcome the Pretorian team to Allianz Park – a place that we as players are immensely proud of,” said the skipper.
“They are always an extremely tough team to play against. They are physical and have traditionally produced a very big pack of forwards, and it promises to be a great clash here in north London.
“The last two games at Allianz Park against the Sharks and Western Province have both proved to be great occasions, and as a team we can’t wait.”
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said: “We know the Sharks and Western Province have lost to Saracens, so our players are not lacking in motivation.
“Everybody in South Africa knows what Saracens have achieved in recent years – winning the Premiership league for the past two years and reaching the European Cup final. For us, any win at Allianz Park would be a great win.”
Meanwhile, Saracens have secured a place in the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup, and they will face French side Racing Metro on the weekend of April 4/5.
Despite a final pool match defeat to ASM Clermont Auvergne at the weekend, Sarries went through as the runner-up in the group and will travel to Paris in the last eight to face to team who qualified for the knockout stages as the top seeds.
Saracens have won their last three matches against the big-spending French side, whose squad includes Ireland’s Jonny Sexton and Wales international Jamie Roberts.
The winner of the match will face either Clermont or Northampton Saints in the semi-final.