Bearing the weight of Saracens’ expectations sounds like an unenviable task, but skipper Alistair Hargreaves is taking it in his stride.
The South African lock assumed the captaincy from club legend Steve Borthwick at the start of this season, as Sarries seek to go one better than defeat in last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby and European finals.
A winning start to the league season ended in round five when an in-form Bath Rugby sent Saracens home empty-handed last Friday night, while their European campaign kicks off later this month.
But Hargreaves insists he was not daunted by the task at the start of the season – and that is still the case.
“Of course it’s a different challenge but I’m just trying to do the things that put me there in the first place, rely on my team-mates and use the wealth of experience that I have at my disposal,” he said.
“I’m just trying to keep building on the foundations that we have put in place over the last four or five seasons.
“The strength in our squad is that we have got the same players, they all believe in the culture we have created at Saracens and how we do things.
“It’s not like we have had to re-invent the wheel. I am just building on what we have done in previous seasons and the guys have been brilliant.
“We have got some unbelievable leaders with international experience – great players and great characters as well – so it’s obviously about managing people.
“Each team comes with its own challenges but our guys have been fantastic. They are a great bunch of lads and everyone gets along really well, works hard together and is really passionate about playing for the club.”
One of those lads who has caught the eye in the early throws of this Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign is Kieran Longbottom.
The Australian-born prop arrived at Allianz Park from Western Force this summer, slotting into a highly-competitive front row in impressive fashion.
And after the 28-year-old raised the possibility of representing England last month, his captain has little doubt of his international credentials.
“He has been really good for us,” added Hargreaves. “He works really hard, he has made a big effort to understand how the team works and to get the detail in his game right and he has been very effective.
“I’m not sure what Kieran’s long-term plans are but if he keeps on putting in good performances in the front row, he is certainly going to ask those questions.”
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