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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 27 January 2021

'There will be 50,000 Munster fans': Sarries ready to stare down emotional red army

“We have thrived on going to places where we potentially have not won before,” says skipper Brad Barritt.

Saracens: booked semi-final place with 38-13 win.
Saracens: booked semi-final place with 38-13 win.
Image: Paul Harding

SARACENS CAPTAIN BRAD Barritt insisted that the defending Champions Cup holders will be undaunted by the prospect of an away semi-final against Munster.

The London club, who are also the reigning Aviva Premiership champions, booked their place in the last four with a convincing 38-13 quarter-final win at home to Glasgow on Sunday.

In front of 15,000 supporters at their Allianz Park ground, Saracens scored four tries, with former England wing Chris Ashton crossing twice.

The Aviva Stadium has often proved an unhappy hunting ground for English sides at both club and international level.

Indeed it was only a few weeks ago that several Saracens stars were members of the England side who saw their hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam dashed with a 13-9 defeat by Ireland.

“The pleasing thing is that over these five or six years we have thrived on going to places where we potentially have not won before,” Barritt said.

“It started in our Vicarage Road days when we didn’t get much of a crowd and we thrived on going to Welford Road and Kingsholm.

“This is the next logical step — to go to a national stadium to play an iconic team like Munster,” the 30-year-old Saracens stalwart added.

“We will look forward to it. We don’t see it as a daunting prospect — we see it as an exciting opportunity,” explained Barritt, capped 26 times by England.

Andrew Conway celebrates his try with Simon Zebo Conway and Zebo: Munster ready for Saracens challenge. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leinster beat Wasps 32-17 at the Aviva on Saturday and Sarries’ director of rugby Mark McCall said it was important his players got used to the prospect of playing before a sell-out and partisan crowd of more than 50,000.

“The players don’t realise it yet — hopefully they will when they get there — but it’s going to be a very special day,” McCall said.

“We played Clermont a couple of years ago when there were 30,000 Clermont fans and us. This is going to be double that — there will be 50,000 Munster fans.

“We all know there’s an emotional element to this game and we have to make sure we’re able to cope with that,” said McCall, with Munster especially fired-up following the shock death of Anthony Foley last October.

“One of the benefits for us is that we have players who have been through it all before.

“We have a team that relishes these kinds of occasions.”

© – AFP, 2017

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