Strettle says Saracens have got over their heartbreak after return to training
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EXCLUSIVE: David Strettle says Saracens have recovered from their heartbreak and are ready to go again after returning to pre-season training.
Less than six weeks have passed since Sarries finished their 2013/14 campaign by losing the Heineken Cup final and then the Premiership final.
However, Strettle insists the players have had enough time to get over the disappointment of ending such a promising season empty-handed, and that there will be no sign of a hangover when they kick off against Wasps at Twickenham on September 6.
“When you play sport for a living it’s usually a weekly turnaround,” said the winger. “It’s not a case where you’re athletes where you might have one event and then you’ve got to wait another three months, or you’re training for the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games.
“With rugby there’s a game every week so you get used to dealing with defeat or getting over the fact that you’ve just won a game - putting it to one side because you know you’ve got another game at the weekend.
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“Obviously the lads are bitterly disappointed in the actual final results, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we had a very good season, getting to the two finals, and I know there are a lot of positives we’ll take from that.
“I think the whole team played very well last year and we were very happy as a group. Of course we lost the two finals but we’re progressing each year, we’re getting better each year, so as a group we want to make sure we keep taking steps forward.”
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Saracens have boosted their squad during the summer by signing the likes of Scotland lock Jim Hamilton, Argentina prop Juan Figallo and England 7s star Mike Ellery.
Strettle said: “It’s kind of like your first day back at school, there’s always a new kid. But it’s good, it’s nice.
“A lot of the academy boys who don’t really train with you during the season, they train with you in pre-season while the international boys are away, just to get the numbers up. There are always a lot of new faces around the squad at this time of year, which is nice.
“It is a quick turnaround. People are quite surprised when you speak to them. They say ‘when are you back in?’ and you say ‘oh we’re already back in’, but we start in September and you’ve got to get back in and get your fitness up to scratch.”
Strettle admits it can be difficult to balance the need for relaxation during the summer with the importance of staying in shape.
“It’s one of those catch-22 situations,” he said. “Do you carry on trying to stay fit and not really give your body much of a rest, or do you think the fact that you’ve playing for so long means you need your body to have a bit of time off? But then you struggle in the first couple of weeks [of pre-season] - if you’re not fit it can be horrible.
“It’s about finding that happy medium. The good thing is when you get a bit older you usually get a good base level of fitness. You usually find that, for the academy boys who first come in, that can be a bit of a shock to the system. It’s hard work but when you have a good pre-season and you get it under your belt you realise the benefits.”
Strettle will certainly aim to relax and enjoy himself on Saturday after organising a much-anticipated rugby, netball and music festival alongside his Sarries team-mate Matt Stevens.
The ‘7evens and the City’ event will take place at Saracens’ Allianz Park stadium in Hendon and will feature a 12-team elite rugby 7s tournament including England, Wales, Scotland and Kenya as they prepare for this month’s Commonwealth Games – and it will be televised by BT Sport in an hour-long special.
The elite event will start at 10am, while there will also be social rugby 7s and netball contests and a fitness competition pitting four-person teams against each other.
In addition to the sport, there were will be a man-made beach, a pop-up casino, Jacuzzi cabanas, a VIP lounge, drinks tents and plenty of food.
DJs will play throughout the day while live music will be provided by Charlie Simpson of Busted fame, Kimberley Wyatt from The Pussycat Dolls and Jax Jones, who had a No1 single with ‘I Got U’ earlier in the year.
“It’s hopefully going to be a big fun day out,” said Strettle. “It’s going to be a real hive of activity on the day alongside loads of beer stalls, food tents and things like this. It should be a great festival atmosphere.
“Matt and I got chatting just under a year ago. I’ve always been into my 7s and Matt’s always been into his food so he wanted to do a food and music festival and I said ‘well why don’t you do it alongside rugby and netball?’, and it kind of all came together.”
Tickets are £10 on the gate or via the website www.sevensandthecity.com. There will be opportunities to give money to the Spark and Liv Village charities around the stadium.