Champions Cup clash against Sale is a ‘special fixture’ for Saracens star Strettle

Saracens' David Strettle. Pic: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Saracens' David Strettle. Pic: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Saracens wing David Strettle is looking forward to a “special fixture” as Saracens return to European action and face Sale Sharks in Manchester on Saturday.

A home win against Clermont Auvergne and a defeat at Munster in the opening two rounds has left the group wide open as Mark McCall’s Londoners head north.

Saracens will play the Sharks in back-to-back fixtures, travelling to the AJ Bell on Saturday before the return game at Allianz Park a week later.

With roots in the north-west, coming from Cheshire, Strettle is relishing the trip more than most. And, although Sale go into the game having lost their opening two rounds of the competition, he knows Steve Diamond’s side will not be taking it easy – especially after their Premiership victory away at Newcastle on Sunday.

“Being a lad from the area, and having played for the Sale Jets as a youngster, it’s always a special fixture for me,” he said.

“It will be a really tough game, and we know we’ll have to be on our mettle to get a result. It’s a European Champions Cup game, but we won’t change our approach.

“We understand we are playing against a team high on confidence, who have strong players throughout and are gelling really well as a unit, so just like any other game we prepare just the same way – but aware that we need to improve.”

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Saracens’ form has dipped in recent weeks, with a draw against Leicester being followed by a home defeat against Northampton Saints and then a 27-19 loss away against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday – all in the Premiership.

“Obviously we are very disappointed,” said Strettle. “We played against a good team who executed their game plan very well. You can see the progression the Chiefs are making as a team and as a squad.

“The confidence they have been playing with is evident, and they know when to play and when not to play in the right areas and they did that very well on Saturday.

“It’s a competitive league. If you are marginally off in certain areas that can decide whether you win or lose. We have to look at the little things.

“We’ve lacked accuracy in our game in areas that we usually pride ourselves on. But we’ve always had confidence in our game plan and that won’t change moving forward.”