Northampton Saints might be robbed of a number of stars on international duty but Joel Hodgson has warned Friday’s opponents Scarlets that there will be no drop in standards for their LV= Cup clash.
Hodgson and co kicked off their LV= campaign with a 37-23 victory over Newcastle Falcons last weekend and now cross the border as the Welsh regions enter the competition.
Deprived of the likes of Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes with England, Saints will give youth a chance in the competition as they eye a spot in the final that will be at Franklin’s Gardens next year.
Last year Saints finished eventual runners-up to Exeter Chiefs but established vital momentum during the autumn that carried them to an Aviva Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup double.
And Hodgson admits that this time around, he and his teammates are hoping to repeat the trick.
“We really concentrate on ourselves, we want to keep this winning momentum and a winning culture while the internationals are away,” he said.
“As Phil (Dowson) said before the first game, we won every single game up to the final last season and that was a big building block for the whole season that finished with winning the Premiership and the Amlin.
“We have highlighted a few things about the Scarlets and how we can hopefully deal with them.
“I’m guessing it will be wet and windy, that always seems to be the case over there.
“We have a lot of boys here who just want to play rugby and impress, given the opportunity, so we will go out hoping to play well.”
For the Scarlets and hooker Kirby Myhill, the LV= Cup is a chance to prove their worth against the champions of England.
And the 22-year-old, a former Wales Under-20 skipper, is adamant that his side will be ready for battle after last week’s PRO12 victory over Zebre.
“We’re going to take the LV= Cup the same way as the league, for me any game is as important as each other and it’s at home as well which gives us extra motivation,” he said.
“I’m sure the young boys will be given a chance to play and I haven’t played too much either, it’s a big opportunity for us.
“There are two internationals ahead of me at Scarlets and I’m not getting as much game time as I’ve have hoped, but that’s the way it is at the moment and I’m trying to push them as hard as I possibly can.
“Ken (Owens) is injured at the moment which is very unlucky for him, but I suppose it can be a bit of a blessing for me. I was injured for one game this year but it wasn’t too bad, so I’ve got a chance now and if I’m going to do well this season I have to show it in these games.”
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Be part of the rugby family at the LV= Cup Final at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton on Sunday 22 March. Visit www.northamptonsaints.co.uk for tickets