Kyle Cooper insists Newcastle Falcons are travelling down to Saracens with the wind in their sails as they prepare for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership clash at Allianz Park.
The Falcons have won nine of their last ten games in all competitions, the team sitting in the top half of the Aviva Premiership and going through to the knock-out rounds of both cup competitions as group winners.
Cooper is in his second season with the club after joining from South African Super Rugby side the Sharks, and has dotted down three tries in his last two games for the Falcons.
“The club is in a good place at the moment on the back of a lot of hard work behind the scenes, but it’s no surprise to us where we are,” said the hooker, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on game day.
“This is what we have worked towards from day one of pre-season and we’ve been unrelenting in how we’ve gone about our business every day.
“The fact that we were disappointed about being one try away from a home semi-final in the Anglo-Welsh Cup says a lot about where we are as a club, especially coming after a bonus-point victory over Gloucester last weekend.
“But let’s be fair, we’re still in the semi-finals of that cup, we’ve got a home quarter-final in the European Challenge Cup and we’re in the top half of the Premiership, so it’s not a disaster. Yeah, we’re upset we’re not at home in the Anglo-Welsh semi, and I think it’s a good sign that we’re not satisfied. We’ll have to wash off that disappointment when the time comes to go down to Exeter, but that’s a little while away yet and we’ll deal with it when it comes round.”
Prior to that is the small matter of ending an 18-game barren streak against the European champions, Cooper stating: “Saracens are a very good side with plenty of squad depth, they’ll come out wanting to win but we have a good squad of our own. We have a few injuries and a number of guys on international duty, but we’ve got a good group with guys coming in to take their chance.
“We know what Saracens are about – I think everyone does – but they’re very good at it. Their defence, their kick-chase and their set-piece are the foundation of it, and they attack from that base. We know what they’re going to bring, but we’re going down there determined to nail our own game.”
Keen to atone for the defeat they suffered earlier in the season when the two teams met in America, Cooper added: “The first thing this weekend is that we want to go down and win the game, but I do think the disappointment of Philadelphia adds a little bit extra because we felt we didn’t give a true account of ourselves over there.
“Since then I think in general we have stayed pretty strong as a team and shown the wider audience what we are about, but if we’re to fulfil the ambitions we have then these are the kinds of games we need to be winning.”