Saracens swept all before them last season, but Aviva Premiership Rugby-winning captain Brad Barritt insists the English champions are working like underdogs.
Mark McCall’s side were the most dominant in Europe last year and England centre Barritt held both the Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup trophies aloft, captaining the North London side to unprecedented success.
And though they have lost Jacques Burger, Ernst Joubert and Charlie Hodgson, they have retained a key core of young internationals – including Mako and Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and George Kruis.
Despite that continuity, Barritt insists his superstars are constantly reminded of how their success was built, grafting to ensure they remain on top when they kick off their Aviva Premiership season off against Worcester Warriors at the London Double Header.
“We wipe the slate clean, everyone starts from scratch at this point in the season and we know we are going to have to work equally hard if not more to be successful again,” the 26-cap centre said at yesterday’s Aviva Premiership Rugby launch at Twickenham.
“Things don’t just happen and resting on your laurels doesn’t get you anywhere. We have got very experienced squad, guys who are motivated and who want to succeed.
“We are fortunate that we have a coaching staff who are driving us hard, hopefully we can start the season off with a bang.
“Having been Aviva Premiership champions last season we definitely have a target on our backs. It is now as competitive as it has ever been, if you look across the 12 squads and the players and experience that each squad has shows that on their day anyone can beat anyone.”
With 86-cap South Africa World Cup winner Schalk Burger arriving at Allianz Park earlier in the summer and England’s Test heroes from Australia linking back up with their club, Barritt insists the mood in camp is brimming with excitement.
“Schalk has been a fantastic addition, he is a brilliant player and more importantly a great guy,” he said.
“His personality among the younger guys has been inspiring and I think he is also looking forward to pulling on that Saracens shirt.
“The return of the England boys has been great, both the guys who have come back from tours and some new fresh faces to the squad.
“They have brought something new into that environment. We know that our culture and the way we interact with people is vital to what we do, we know that hard work and these relationships build strong rugby teams.
“The way we have interacted over the past five weeks has been great and now everybody is very eager to kick start the season.”
Start the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season in style with two games from £25 at Twickenham. Harlequins v Bristol Rugby and Saracens v Worcester Warriors in the London Double Header, 3 September. Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk