12 October 2017
We’re just two days away from this weekend’s European Rugby Champions Cup opener against Benetton Rugby at the Rec, and we’re really looking forward to having all of your support behind us.
We’re really excited to be back competing against the best teams in Europe and I know first-hand how hard the squad have worked to get to this point. There’s no better way to kick-off our campaign than at home and I have no doubt that the atmosphere will be electric once again this afternoon for our game against Benetton Rugby.
It’s been a tough start to the season, but to have won four out of our first six fixtures in the Aviva Premiership, we would have taken that any day. We were delighted to come away with a bonus-point victory on Saturday and I was particularly pleased by the way we closed out the game in the last quarter. Worcester put us under a huge amount of pressure in the first half and everyone had to dig deep to get ourselves back into the game and in front of the scoreboard.
It was a testament to the character of the group that we held on after losing two of our standout players on the day in the closing stages – Freddie Burns and Ben Tapuai.
However, it was refreshing to see how composed Josh Lewis was when he was thrown into the game, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do from the start today.
Benetton will be seen by many as the underdogs this afternoon, but we haven’t looked at them in that light whatsoever. We have prepared for this game just like any other and we are braced for another physical encounter.
They have had an impressive start in the Pro14 and come into the game off the back of a resounding win against Kings last weekend, so they will be full of confidence. Kieran Crowley has put together a really strong side and you only have to look at the club’s representation in the Italy squad for the November tests to see the real quality in their ranks.
We know how important it is to get off to a good start and this game is crucial in giving us the platform to build onto our next few fixtures in the competition. The squad have worked exceptionally hard in making sure that they are full prepared to hit the ground running from the very start and deliver that strong performance in both defence and attack.
It’s important for me to extend a big thank you to everyone in the stands. A team is nothing without its supporters and you have really made the difference so far this season.
Whether that be the small, but loud pockets at Welford Road, or the sell-out crowd at Saracens and Worcester, it’s really special to see and hear what fantastic support we have behind us. We hope we can repay some of that passion today in what is an exciting occasion for everyone involved.
See you on Saturday,