Saints to relish new Challenge after being 'out of our depth'

Saints suffered defeat to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham last Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Saints suffered defeat to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham last Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Teimana Harrison admits Saints have been 'out of our depth' in Europe during the past few seasons.

And the back row forward believes swapping the Champions Cup for Challenge Cup action will be 'a welcome change' for the black, green and gold.

Saints have dropped into Europe's second tier competition having finished ninth in the Premiership last season.

It is the first time they have started a campaign in the Challenge Cup since 2008.

And Harrison said: "It's a welcome change.

"In the last three or four years, we've been a little bit out of our depth in Europe.

"We start off in another competition and it's a chance for us to go full bore into some people so it's good.

"It's a good chance for us to build momentum and to play players who normally wouldn't get a chance, along with trying new combinations.

"This year we're lucky with the strength in depth that we have and to get everyone playing and give everyone game time is good, but most importantly we've got to get the momentum going back into the Premiership."

Saints have won the Challenge Cup on the past two occasions they have been involved in it.

They beat Bourgoin in the 2008/09 showpiece and defeated Bath in the 2013/14 final, having dropped into the Challenge Cup from the Champions Cup.

And they begin their next bid for glory against a familiar foe, French giants Clermont Auvergne, at the Gardens on Saturday.

"It's going to be a good indicator of where we are," Harrison said.

"They're a big French pack, they like to bully people and a massive work-on for us is obviously our defence so what better than to go up against big boys and get your learnings from there?

"We're under no illusions that it's going to be a hard game but we're going to throw ourselves at it and give everything we've got.

"It will be tough for us but we're ready for it."