Second-row Emma Taylor admits that her side are looking to make a statement in tomorrow’s season opener against Loughborough Lightning.
Off the back of a successful cup run, the Canadian insists that her side want to live up to their own expectations as attentions now turn to the league.
“We really want to start well. From a forwards perspective, we want to be direct and come out with a bang. There’s so much potential in this group and we want to show that we’re not just a strong team on paper.”
Those cup matches proved to be a huge positive for Saracens, as they tested themselves against a variety of oppositions, eventually securing top spot in the group. Taylor believes that whilst they learnt a lot from their previous encounter with tomorrow’s opponents, it has been the physical battles that have set them up well for the start of the league.
“The cup was huge. The Gloucester-Hartpury match was exactly what we needed coming into the league. They’re a solid, well-drilled and physical side. The previous match against Loughborough was more of a running game with the quick attacking threat that they posed, so that was a good one for us to learn from . You look at that Gloucester match, that was a proper physical battle up front, which has set us up really well to do what we want to do going into Saturday.”
Ahead of this one, Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry has welcomed back a number of internationals from international duty.
Up front, McKinley Hunt makes her debut for the club, with England internationals May Campbell and Kelsey Clifford joining her in the front-row.
In the second-row, Taylor packs down alongside Welsh international Georgia Evans, whilst Canadian captain Sophie de Goede starts in the back-row alongside Sharifa Kasolo and Poppy Cleall.
The half-backs have a nice blend of youth and experience, with Leanne Infante and Amelia MacDougall steering the ship, whilst the centres see Sophie Bridger and Sydney Gregson link up, with Bridger making her debut for the club.
It’s an all international back-three too, with co-captain Lotte Clapp joined by Coreen Grant and Jess Breach.
There’s plenty of experience on the bench too, with Bryony Field, Akina Gondwe and Donna Rose poised to make an impact in the front-row, with the Welsh international returning to Saracens colours after a year out with injury.
Rosie Galligan could make her second debut for the club should she feature, with World Player of the Year Marlie Packer ready to add her experience to the fold.
There’s more international experience too, with Red Roses pair Ella Wyrwas and the returning Zoe Harrison ready to impact proceedings. For Harrison, this will be her first match back since her season-ending injury against Harlequins Women last season, with Cara Wardle also ready to add her experience to the game.
It’s a squad packed with experience that will start the season. For Taylor though, she was quick to emphasise that this will be a full squad effort across the entirety of the campaign.
“A lot of people forget the importance of training and the competition in training. We’ve got such depth in the group and there are quality athletes who haven’t made the 23 but having them at training drives the standards. It’s going to be the whole squad who push each other for where we want to be this season.”
Saracens Women’s Team vs Loughborough Lightning:
15. Jess Breach
14. Coreen Grant
13. Sydney Gregson
12. Sophie Bridger
11. Lotte Clapp (co-captain)
10. Amelia MacDougall
9. Leanne Infante
1. McKinley Hunt
2. May Campbell
3. Kelsey Clifford
4. Georgia Evans
5. Emma Taylor
6. Sophie De Goede
7. Sharifa Kasolo
8. Poppy Cleall
16. Bryony Field
17. Akina Gondwe
18. Donna Rose
19. Rosie Galligan
20. Marlie Packer (co-captain)
21. Ella Wyrwas
22. Zoe Harrison
23. Cara Wardle
With thanks to the PWR/Saracens