Mallinder setting sights on European glory with Saints

NEW DAWN - George North represented Saints at the launch of the new European competitions aat Twickenham yesterday
NEW DAWN - George North represented Saints at the launch of the new European competitions aat Twickenham yesterday

Jim Mallinder says Saints will place a huge emphasis on Europe as they bid to become the first winners of the Rugby Champions Cup.

Mallinder attended the competition launch at Twickenham on Wednesday and excitement is building ahead of the first round of fixtures next weekend.

Saints, who have been placed in Pool 5 alongside Racing Metro, Ospreys and Treviso, will travel to Paris to face Racing a week on Saturday.

And Mallinder knows that match-up between the two fancied teams will be key as his men bid to realise their ambition of securing a home quarter-final.

“There are some good trips, to Paris and to Italy,” he said. “The fans are all looking forward to those.

“We’ve got some tough games, with Racing away first. It’s vital for us.

“We need to get off to a good start, but hopefully if we can play well and get some consistency, we can get a home quarter and we’d be very, very happy.”

Premiership champions Saints currently sit top of their domestic league and will be expected to do well in Europe this season.

Last time round, they exited the Heineken Cup at the pool stages before going on to win the Amlin Challenge Cup.

And Mallinder said: “English sides can compete. Sarries got very, very close in getting to the final last year so it can happen.

“However, some of these French teams have got massive squads and they do compete really well in their domestic competition and in Europe.

“But we’ve got a good chance. We’re going to go out there to win it.

“We won the Premiership last year, which we loved doing, and we’re going to put a lot of emphasis on Europe this year.”