Wood expecting ‘huge challenge’ as Saints head for Clermont

Tom Wood believes Clermont Auvergne have been targeting Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final against Saints for weeks.

By Tom Vickers
Wednesday, 1st April 2015, 7:00 am
Tom Wood
Tom Wood

The French giants were beaten 40-26 at Stade Francais last weekend but remain joint top of the Top 14 with Toulon.

They boast a formidable home record, having not lost in Europe since a defeat to Sale in 2008.

And with key men to come back into the side for this weekend’s fixture, Wood knows what kind of challenge awaits Saints at Stade Marcel Michelin.

“I hear from a fairly reliable source that they’ve been preparing for our game for a month or so,” said the England flanker.

“I thought the Top 14 would be a huge priority for them but it appears not.

“They’ve been putting all their eggs in one basket and targeting us, which is nice to hear!

“We saw them playing against Saracens and they’re a very difficult side to break down

“We know we’ve got to lift it against them.”

Saints head across the Channel with little pressure on their shoulders as Clermont are big favourites to continue their impressive record.

But having won at Ulster in 2012 and Leinster in 2013, Wood is hoping some of Northampton’s underdog spirit can show again on Saturday.

“We’ve got an underdog tag that we don’t carry very often and it’s a huge challenge for us,” he said.

“But I like to think we’re at our best when our backs are against the wall and hopefully we’ll come out and shock a few people.”