TOP BAR - Fixtures

Furbank fired up for Sarries match-up in season opener

Furbank fired up for Sarries match-up in season opener

Travelling to the defending champions in the first round of the new Gallagher Premiership Rugby season is the perfect way to test Northampton Saints’ resolve, according to fullback George Furbank.

After finishing in the top four in Chris Boyd’s first season as director of rugby at Franklin’s Gardens, the 22-year-old insists Saints are determined to go one better than last year’s semi-final finish.

And they couldn’t have picked a much tougher start than a trip to Allianz Park in their first fixture, home of English and European champions Saracens.

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For Furbank – who established himself in the Saints backline last year – the tie represents an opportunity for his side to demonstrate their capability from the get-go.

But the fullback admits the whole squad are also relishing the chance to perform in front of the Northampton faithful in their first home game a week later against Worcester Warriors.

He said: “No doubt about it, Saracens away is always a tough place to go.

“Even though their internationals will be away at the World Cup, they’re still going to be a very tough outfit and the boys will be really excited as the game draws closer.

“I’m really excited for the Worcester game – the first game back at Franklin’s Gardens.

“It’ll be packed out and the crowd is always awesome, so we’re all really excited about that one.”

While Furbank acknowledges the challenges Saracens pose, he believes the Gallagher Premiership will be more competitive than ever in the new season and is wary of threats each team possess.

Following their promising campaign last time out, he is confident the Saints’ core of young players can continue to go from strength to strength and explains they are focused on getting their preparation right in the off-season.

He said: “Saracens are an unbelievable side and that game will be a big one, but I think the whole league is going to be dangerous this year.

“There were plenty of twists and turns last season and I think it’s going to be the same again this time out.

“We wanted to make the top four and we achieved that before losing to a tough Exeter side away in the semi-finals.

“But we want to kick-on again this year and compete with the big boys, make the last four again and push on from there.

“The players won’t focus too much on the opening rounds of fixtures just yet. Obviously, it’s nice to know your first few games, but the planning won’t start for a while.

“At the moment, the boys have all just got their heads down and grafting is our main focus.

“There’s a really good vibe in the camp, we’re already working on rugby basics and everyone is just really excited to be getting going.

“We’re all a tight-knit bunch and get on really well.

“There are a few of us in the first team squad now that have come through the academy together and it’s an awesome feeling to be able to pull on the shirt with boys you’ve played with since you were 15 or 16.

“With a few of the lads away at the World Cup, it’s massively important we all step up now and we just can’t wait to get through the pre-season and try and do that.”

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