Last season’s European disappointment is spurring on Northampton Saints this season and fly-half Stephen Myler insists he and his teammates are more than ready to see off Racing Metro this weekend.
The Parisian outfit are the only remaining unbeaten team left in the European Rugby Champions Cup after four wins – including a 20-11 success over Saints in France – and one draw from their first five games.
But since that opening defeat the Saints have claimed four wins on the bounce and, after picking up bonus points, are level on points with the French side in their Pool.
A win at Franklin’s Gardens this weekend would therefore see them leapfrog their opponents to the top of Pool 5 and in all likelihood secure a home quarter-final.
That is a big step up from last year’s exit in the Pool stages but since then the Saints have become the Aviva Premiership Rugby champions and Myler is adamant that this weekend will mark another step in their progression.
“Making the quarter-finals in Europe was a big aim for us this season,” he said.
“We didn’t manage to do it last year so this time around we want to make sure we get there, hopefully with a home quarter-final as well because that can be a big help.
“But we know how tough it will be against Racing, they have got threats everywhere. They have internationals in nearly every position, with a great squad depth, so we have to be ready.
“We were not at our best in France, our performance level dropped and we lost so we know we need to be back to our best.
“We have had a dip recently in the league but to win in Wales against the Ospreys last week, where they had not lost all season, was a big boost.
“And at Franklin’s Gardens with the great support that we get we want to produce our best rugby.
“We have had a look at them, we know a lot of their players and have a good idea of what they will do but most of all it is about our game and making sure we get that right.
“If we can do that then we know we should be in with a great chance.”
While Myler’s focus is understandably on club duties this week, the fly-half did have the distraction on Wednesday of being called up to England’s Six Nations training squad.
Myler is one of four fly-halves included and the 30-year-old, who has one England cap to his name, is desperate to add to his tally.
But with Owen Farrell, George Ford and Danny Cipriani also vying for two spots in the matchday squad, Myler knows he will have to be at his best.
“Stuart (Lancaster) has proven that he is not afraid to make changes and give people a chance,” he added.
“And I cannot wait to get down there for training, to speak to the coaches and find out what they are looking for and hopefully compete to get in that squad.
“It’s always exciting, there is a lot of competition at fly-half, but that is the case in every position.
“I got a bit of a knock in the autumn which disrupted by time with England so hopefully I can get there this time firing fit and get stuck in.”
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