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Preview: Saracens v Northampton Saints

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Alex Waller is looking forward to testing himself against some of the best players in the country as Northampton Saints take on Saracens in this weekend’s European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final.

Saints won on their last trip to Allianz Park, handing Saracens their first Aviva Premiership Rugby loss of the season on home soil.

However the domestic champions are back on top of the pile in the league, and Waller admits the challenge doesn’t come much tougher than the league leaders.

“You want to play against the best players in the country and Saracens have some of them,” said Waller.

“I think Sarries are good all round, they have great backs, look at their backs and they have internationals across the board. Their forwards are the same, the forward pack are bigger and they have this wolf pack thing going on which is great for them but I think we are just as good in that aspect up front.

“I think we have had a few battles up front this season and previous seasons between the packs and it is one that we look forward to, that I look forward to especially and I know some of the others boy do.”

Northampton are monitoring the fitness of centre Luther Burrell, scrum-half Lee Dickson and prop Kieran Brookes, who are hoping to recover from concussions in time, while Dylan Hartley may be in line for a return to action.

Saracens come into the fixture off the back of an impressive 30-10 Aviva Premiership Rugby win over Bath Rugby last Friday and Kelly Brown believes there is a buzz around the squad ahead of this European fixture.

He told the Scrum Magazine: “European competition is always exciting. When you come through the pool stages the knock-out matches can seem quite far away, but as soon as all of the guys who were on Six Nations duties returned a couple of weeks back we have been talking about the quarter-final quite a lot.

“We played Northampton during the Six Nations period in the league and they beat us, but now both sides are pretty much back to full strength and it is a one off game so it should be a cracking contest.

“The English clubs have done very well in Europe this year with five in the quarter-finals and having played in semis and finals before, we at Saracens aspire to get back to that level.

“We know it will not be easy, but there is a great buzz amongst the group at the moment and some of the guys are flying in terms of form while the competition for places is keeping everyone going.

“We know come early evening on Saturday, Allianz Park will be some place to be and the home crowd will be willing us on to win, so we have to get off to a good start and give them something to cheer about.”

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