Collins keen to make more magical Champions Cup memories at Saints

Tom Collins is setting his sights on Saracens (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Tom Collins is setting his sights on Saracens (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Tom Collins wants Saints to start making more magical Champions Cup memories this weekend.

Jim Mallinder's men begin their Pool 2 campaign with a home game against back-to-back champions Saracens on Sunday evening (kick-off 5.30pm).

Saints lost to Sarries 55-24 on the opening day of the Aviva Premiership campaign, but the green, black and gold are in better shape now.

And talented wing Collins, who has played in some big Champions Cup ties, including the incredible win against Leinster in Dublin in December 2013, can't wait to get stuck in this weekend.

"It's not that far off international standard and you always aspire to get to that level," said the 23-year-old.

"This is the highest you can get without playing for your country and it's something I want to aspire to.

"These games are massive and they're the ones I want to play in.

"I don't think many memories get better than these with big away trips and playing in front of a lot of fans at home.

"It's a different atmosphere to the Prem, playing on a Sunday night, Friday night, Saturdays.

"It's a great experience and we've got to bring memories as a group and start moving forward."

Collins played in the defeat to Saracens back on September 2 and was one of the few Saints players to show glimpses of class before he was forced off with cramp.

He has not forgotten about the Twickenham torment, during which Saints shipped nine tries, and Mallinder's men will be revved up to exact revenge on Sunday evening.

"I think that defeat will always motivate us," Collins said.

"It wasn't very nice going underneath our posts every five minutes, it's quite annoying, quite frustrating and no player wants to feel like that.

"We watched it back quite a bit - especially individually I like to see what went wrong and what I can do better.

"All of the lads did the same and that's why we came out firing in the few weeks that followed.

"It spurs you on and especially at home, in the start of the European Cup, it doesn't get much bigger.

"We know we can't afford to have another off day at the start of the European Cup.

"Now it's all about performing on the day, bringing the intensity, bringing the speed and getting stuck in."

Saints struggled to maintain their intensity levels last weekend as they were beaten 29-24 at Gloucester.

It was a difficult day at Kingsholm, with the away side conceding five tries in a disappointing defensive display.

And Collins said: "It was frustrating. It was one of those games and it was tough to swallow.

"The second half didn't really come out how we wanted it to because the four weeks before that we had been flying and confident.

"A lot of their tries came off our own errors and it's tiny bits of detail. If you make one mistake, they're scoring.

"It was a humbling experience, it brings us back down to earth and it's something we've been able to work on.

"We've got a massive game this weekend. Every game is a big game, but going into the European competition, we can move forward and hopefully beat Sarries in front of a big home crowd."

Saints and Saracens have become regular foes during recent years.

And Collins knows exactly what his team can expect this weekend.

"They're a quality team," he said.

"They bring a lot of line speed, a lot of intensity, they kick the ball a lot and they want to play as well.

"We've got to take it to them and outwork them.

"The group we're in is massive and it would put down a good marker if we can beat them this weekend.

"It would put us in good stead.

"A lot of people are doubting us, especially after the season we had last year, but we're confident and we know where we want to end up."