Strettle says it was like he never left Saracens after returning from France

David Strettle (left) and Richard Wigglesworth celebrate winning the Aviva Premiership title with Sa

David Strettle (left) and Richard Wigglesworth celebrate winning the Aviva Premiership title with Saracens in 2015 (pic: David Davies/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

In an article from our ‘Engage’ pullout, Saracens wing David Strettle previews the new Gallagher Premiership season

After three years away from Saracens, David Strettle is back and raring to go ahead of the new Gallagher Premiership season.

The wing departed north London in the summer of 2015 to make the switch to French Top 14 outfit Clermont Auvergne.

In that time, the 35-year-old helped Les Jaunards win the title in 2017 — the same year in which they finished runners-up in the European Champions Cup.

However, it was announced in January of this year that the England international would be returning to Allianz Park in the summer ahead of the new campaign.

And now firmly back in and around the Sarries set-up, Strettle says he cannot wait for the new season to get going.

“It feels brilliant to be back and it feels like I haven’t been away,” the wing told the club website.

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“There are a few new faces in the squad, but there are a lot of old faces as well.

“Training has been good and nothing has changed in terms of their work ethic. It’s a great environment to be in.”

Despite spending the last three seasons in a different country playing in a different league, Strettle has still come up against Sarries in the European Champions Cup.

The north Londoners triumphed over Clermont in the final of the competition in 2017, though the French side did the double over Sarries in the group stages last term.

And the 35-year-old admits he found it strange coming up against his former employers during his time in France.

“It’s never nice playing against your friends because whoever wins, there was always going to be a loser,” he added.

“Sadly I found out how hard it was to play against Saracens in a European Champions Cup final and it’s great to be back because being on the right side of it does feel good.”

He continued: “It was a strange feeling playing at Allianz Park for Clermont last season.

“It was a strange game anyway because it was a game that had been postponed because of snow and there was only a few hundred people watching the game.

“I love playing at Allianz Park, so to be privileged enough to play back there in front of the crowd is something that I’m looking forward to.”

As for his experience of playing with Clermont, Strettle says he is honoured to have had the opportunity to do so.

And the England international says he was also pleased to be able to experience a different way of life in another country.

“I feel very lucky because I do a job where you can ply your trade in England and abroad,” he said.

“I was lucky enough to experience a different culture and I played for one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

“Anyone who has been lucky enough to go to the Stade Marcel- Michelin can see the crowd and to experience that week in, week out was a privilege. I had some great experiences over there over the past three years.”

Strettle, though, decided to return to England when signing a one-year deal with Saracens in January of this year.

And the wing says that the atmosphere at the north London club was one of the reasons why he was only to happy to return to Allianz Park.

“I had great friends here and it’s a great environment to be in,” he added.

“It’s a place where everyone is friends and everyone wants you to do well.

“There’s a great environment to push you on and that was one of the main reasons to come back.

“I had a great experience in France, but to be able to come back to England and play at Saracens is something I’ve been very lucky to do.”

During his previous spell with Saracens, Strettle helped the north Londoners lift the Premiership title twice.

The 35-year-old played a key part in the success for the Allianz Park outfit in both the 2010-11 and 2014-15 campaigns.

And now back, he will no doubt love to help Saracens successfully defend their title this term after beating Exeter Chiefs in May’s final.

One competition Strettle did not win in his first spell with Sarries, though, was the European Champions Cup.

The wing was part of the Sarries squad that lost the 2014 final to Toulon, and since Strettle has been away, Sarries have twice won the competition.

Strettle will hope Mark McCall’s men can win it for a third time this season as he looks to add another medal to a glittering collection in his succesful career.