Saracens backs Brad Barritt and Sean Maitland are hoping history repeats itself when they face Leinster Rugby in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
It was at that venue that the English club scored a famous 26-10 victory last year against Munster Rugby in the semi-finals on their way to retaining the trophy.
Maitland told Saracens.com: “We have good memories at the Aviva Stadium against Munster, with 50,000 of their fans cheering against us, and it’s going to be the same – a sea of blue this time – and it’s a great one to be a part of.”
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) March 29, 2018
Barritt added on the London club’s website: “This team has always thrived on these big occasions. The semi-final at the Aviva last season against Munster we were outnumbered in terms of fans and having home comforts, but this team is galvanised by these big experiences and we’ve had enough of them in the past seven years to go there with full confidence.”
Maitland acknowledged that Saracens’ passage to the last eight has been far from easy this season, as they claimed the eighth qualifying spot with a 62-14 win over Northampton Saints in Round 6 to finish runners-up in Pool 2.
“The rugby gods decided to look after us that last weekend,” said the Scotland wing. “I had chatted to a few of the Glasgow boys and they fancied themselves against Exeter, so that was the first time I thought we had a chance; we just needed a couple more results to go our way.
“To squeeze into eighth and play top seed Leinster is super exciting, and it doesn’t get much bigger than that.”
? | Surgery five days before game day? No problem!@bradbarritt chats about his fractured cheekbone and his determination not to miss Sunday’s match in Dublin. ? https://t.co/XybXBnnrU9 pic.twitter.com/kyWwwU4Hvx
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) March 28, 2018
Barritt has had to go under the knife this week in order to be available to lead Saracens against Leinster, after leaving the field during the London club’s win over Harlequins last weekend with a neck injury and later discovering he had fractured his cheekbone.
On Tuesday the centre had a small plate inserted in his cheek, but he insists it won’t stop him playing in Dublin.
“I’m completely 100 per cent confident I can do my role,” he told Saracens.com.
“I only realised I’d fractured it late on Saturday when I blew my nose and it inflated! I had a small plate put into my cheek and thanks to the marvels of science I was able to have it done under local anaesthetic. It was a surreal experience, but I’ve had a lot more painful experiences in my day.”