'A real belief' - Smith and Saints travel to Thomond Park with a spring in their step

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Fin Smith says there is a 'real belief' in the Saints squad that they can secure a long-awaited win at Thomond Park this evening (kick-off 5.30pm).

The black, green and gold have had some gut-wrenching losses at Munster in years gone by, with the most recent coming last season.

On that occasion, Saints scored 23 second-half points but still found themselves on the wrong end of a 27-23 defeat against the hosts, who had a man sent off midway through the first period.

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Munster have won the past six meetings between the sides in the Champions Cup, with Saints unable to beat the Irish province since a 31-27 success at the Gardens in October 2009.

Fin Smith (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Fin Smith (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Fin Smith (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

But with Phil Dowson's men currently on an eight-match winning streak in all competitions, confidence is high ahead of this weekend's encounter.

"It's a brilliant test," said Smith, who will once again start at fly-half for Saints.

"We were there last year and we always back ourselves but we probably didn't fully believe we could go there and get a result.

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"There's a massively different feeling in the squad this year because we're playing some really good stuff and there's a real belief that we can get a big result in front of 25,000 Irish fans.

"It's going to be a massive occasion and we can't wait to get stuck in."

Earlier this week, Smith was one of seven Saints players included in England's Six Nations squad.

And he was delighted that the recognition he had been hoping for arrived.

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"Last year it came as a bit of a surprise but the way we've been playing here recently, I'd have been gutted not to have been involved in the squad," Smith said.

"The number of us in the squad is a reflection of how well we've been doing here.

"We're doing really well here and it always helps when the team's playing well because you get a bit more individual recognition.

"It's been good for all of us and you're starting to see us play some really confident rugby now, which is off the back of some really good team performances.

"I'm really excited to get started."

So how did Smith find out about his call-up?

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"I actually found out on Twitter at 10am when the squad got announced," he said, smiling.

"I'd spoken to Steve (Borthwick) and he told me his intentions in the previous weeks were that I'd be involved if I kept fit and kept playing well but I still wasn't going to believe it until I saw it on paper.

"My poor mum and dad were texting me every five minutes to ask if I'd have a phone call.

"I was waking up every hour of the night to check my phone and it made it all the sweeter to see my name in the squad."

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Smith is set to go into camp with a spring in his step as his confidence levels continue to rise at Saints.

He said: "Now we're beating good sides and playing some good rugby, it gives us real confidence to go into this camp and think 'actually, we're the in form side, we're getting wins and we're top of the table so there's no reason we can't go out there and put our hand up for selection'.

"Last year when I was in the Six Nations squad, there was a real sort of imposter syndrome. I was looking around and thinking 'how have I been picked?' and I didn't feel like I belonged.

"Now I feel like I've definitely earned this selection slightly more and it gives you so much confidence to go in there and hopefully impress the other guys.”