Saturday, 14 May 2016

Racing 92 v Saracens - Preview

Owen Farrell says Saracens' preparation for Saturday's European Champions Cup final in Lyon has been "spot on".

Saracens were beaten 23-6 by a Jonny Wilkinson-inspired Toulon team in their last European final two years ago.

But the Aviva Premiership title holders face Racing 92 hoping to become the first team in history to win all nine games in a European campaign.

"We have done our preparation now, and we've just got to relax," said England fly-half Farrell.

"Since two years ago when we played in that last final, we've grown a lot as a team."

Wasps were the last English European title holders in 2007, while they also achieved a domestic and European double three years earlier, which are both feats that Saracens could match during the next fortnight.

"It is not about what's happened for the rest of this year, or what's after Saturday. It is about Saturday," added Farrell, one of eight remaining players who started the 2014 loss.

The 24-year-old is likely to line up opposite New Zealand international Dan Carter, but says the final will not be about "fly-half versus fly-half".

"There is no doubt he is a brilliant player," Farrell added. "I am sure that any fly-half would look up to him. It's about the collective effort from both teams, and who comes out on top there."

All Black great Carter is aiming to cap a "special 12 months" by adding the Champions Cup to October's World Cup victory.

Carter spearheaded New Zealand's march to back-to-back Webb Ellis trophies, and the 34-year-old says this season has been one of the best of his illustrious career.

"It's right up there," he said. "It's been a pretty special 12-14 months with certain things that I have achieved."

The international world-record points scorer added: "I'm just lucky to be a part of a couple of pretty special teams, obviously with the All Blacks and what they achieved, and now to be involved in another very special team in Racing.

"So I just find myself pretty lucky to play alongside some great players and in some great teams."

Carter says playing in a European final was one of his motivations for moving to France, and believes the magnitude of the game rivals any other he has played in.

"It's obviously the pinnacle of European rugby, and a big part of the reason why I wanted to come here and play," he said.

"To reach this stage is a highly proud moment for me, and more importantly this team.

"But we haven't won anything yet and we are up against a very good Saracens side. We've done well to get here but the hard work starts now."

Racing 92
B Dulin; J Rokocoko, J Goosen, A Dumoulin, J Imhoff; D Carter, M Machenaud; E Ben Arous, D Szarzewski (capt), B Tameifuna, L Charteris, F Van der Merwe, W Lauret, B Le Roux, C Masoe.
Replacements: V Lacombe, K Vartanov, L Ducalon, M Carizza, A Claassen, M Phillips, R Tales, H Chavancy.

A Goode; C Ashton, D Taylor, B Barritt (capt), C Wyles; O Farrell, R Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, S Brits, P du Plessis, M Itoje, G Kruis, M Rhodes, W Fraser, B Vunipola.
Replacements: J George, R Barrington, J Figallo, J Hamilton, J Wray, B Spencer, C Hodgson, M Bosch.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland) and Leighton Hodges (Wales).

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