Saracens star has high hopes ahead of Heineken Cup semi-final with Clermont
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EXCLUSIVE: Richard Wigglesworth hopes Saracens can avoid a third successive Heineken Cup exit against French opposition as they prepare to face Clermont Auvergne in the European semi-finals on Saturday.
Sarries were eliminated by Clermont in the quarter-finals at Watford’s Vicarage Road in 2012, and they were knocked out by the eventual winners Toulon in the semi-finals at Twickenham last season.
Now the Hendon outfit are back in the last four, facing last year’s losing finalists Clermont again at Twickenham on Saturday, and Wigglesworth hopes history does not repeat itself.
“French teams have beaten us in the latter stages of this competition the last couple of times, and hopefully this time we get on the right end of the result and turn it round,” the scrum-half told Ham&High Sport.
“The French teams have got very good players and they’re traditionally very big, powerful teams.
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“Clermont are no different so we know we’ll have to match them physically first to be able to get any foothold in the game. If we do that and execute how we want to play then we’re confident we can get the result.
“It will start at the set pieces, and they’re a team that plays a good territory game so we’ve got to make sure that we match that and don’t play too much in our own half and make sure we play in theirs.
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“We’re pretty excited about it, we’re right at the end of the season with big games to play so there’s no point getting nervous about them, we might as well just enjoy them.
“This is why you play - to play in the best stadiums in front of a lot of people. It’s all about getting exited at these opportunities, not going into your shell. I think we’ve got a lot of personalities that thrive on these games.”
Last season, Saracens went into their Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon on the back of a Premiership defeat at Gloucester.
But this time they are on a five-game winning run, including Sunday’s 23-18 victory at Newcastle Falcons which ensured that the current league leaders will have home advantage in next month’s Premiership semi-finals.
“We rested a lot of guys at the weekend, which was nice, and we still came out with the win,” said Wigglesworth. “I know a year ago we didn’t rest as many guys away at Gloucester, and we lost, so it’s nice to keep a bit of momentum going into the game.
“Any time you have disappointments you just have to learn from them and hopefully we’ve learned enough to make sure we play a little bit better this time and come out on the right end of the result.
“We’ve added to the squad since last year and those players have come in and played well - and our younger lads are a year more experienced and they’re used to playing in these big games now. We’re a better squad and better equipped.”
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