Mark Wilson admits Newcastle Falcons may have lacked belief against the Aviva Premiership’s finest two years ago, but ahead of Saracens the flanker is adamant there is no such fear factor this time round.
The Falcons are back in the Aviva Premiership after a one-year absence and in fine form, having bagged back-to-back victories against Worcester Warriors and London Irish.
And with leaders Saracens next up – who lost their 100 per cent league record last time out against Northampton Saints – an upset could be on the cards at Allianz Park on Sunday.
The Falcons have also won four of their last five on their Premiership travels and, even though Wilson knows there is room for improvement, he insists the team can topple Saracens on their own turf.
“We are not letting up,” said Wilson. “Maybe a couple of seasons ago we would have given up in these types of games and some of our players didn’t think we’d get the result.
“We are not going to be in that situation again as we’re with lots of players who believe and want to succeed. There’s a passion which maybe we were lacking in previous years.
“I think Saracens will be a very interesting game, one which we’re definitely excited about.
“After they got a hiding off Northampton it’s going to be a great encounter and we have a lot to prove as well.
“The top teams may have a lot of players out with internationals but it’s not as if the players are coming in are mugs – they are quality players in their own right, they all have strength in depth.
“We have to back ourselves and we’ve won our last two Premiership games – that’s a fact.
“We didn’t play as well as we could have done against London Irish, but It just shows we have a lot of belief and character this year and we are coming out on top.
“We’re constantly looking to improve and with the amount of attacks we create, one day a team is going to face a backlash and be on the end of a hiding.”
Saracens’ defeat to Northampton was their second in a row in all competitions, having suffered a narrow reversal against Toulouse at Wembley in the Heineken Cup.
And while Sarries have only lost once in their previous ten matches at Allianz Park – this coming in last year’s Aviva Premiership semi-final against Saints – prop Richard Barrington is taking nothing for granted against the league’s new-boys.
“I played Falcons last year while I was still with Jersey so I know about their threat,” he said.
“They are a side that pride themselves on a very strong set-piece, their pack of forwards are very tough.
“But we know what sort of a team they are and we are prepared for it, so hopefully we can get back to winning ways in front of our home crowd.”
Allianz Park (3pm)
Referee: Matthew Carley (3rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce & Andrew Pearce. TMO: Roy Maybank.