Venter full of admiration for Tigers
May 26, 2010
Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter and assistant Mark McCall who will take charge of the side on Saturday © Getty Images
Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter has heaped praise on Guinness Premiership Final rivals Leicester Tigers on the eve of their Twickenham showdown.
The clubs clash on Saturday with Sarries boss Venter missing from the occasion due to his 10-week touchline suspension and Rugby Football Union-imposed ban from the ground.
And should Saracens maintain impressive recent form - successive away wins against Leicester and Northampton (twice) - then their South African boss could have cause to celebrate a first major trophy for the club since 1998, even if he cannot be there in person.
Yet he is also quick to salute Leicester, who appear in their sixth successive Premiership final in pursuit of a successful title defence following last season's 10-9 victory over London Irish.
"Leicester deserve a lot of credit," said Venter. "You don't build an organisation like Leicester has built for so many years unless you are very close-knit. We've said before that Leicester is the one club in England that we look up to in the way they do things and the culture they've created. But in saying that, we are also creating our own culture. We don't do things like Leicester do things, we do things our way.
"We've come a long way this season in building a culture that all of us are very proud of. That culture is based on our own characteristics that we want in people. It will be a tough encounter on Saturday - we know what the challenge in front of us is going to be like.
"In saying that, we also know that this (Saracens) team can beat anybody. We know that, and we have proved it by beating Northampton and Leicester away. If you ask me if we can beat Leicester, then I would say of course we can. Will it be easy? Definitely not."
Saracens look set to welcome back their skipper Steve Borthwick following a knee problem that has sidelined him since mid-March. And Leicester are unlikely to deviate from the side that saw off Premiership semi-final opponents Bath 12 days ago, meaning a farewell appearance for England star Lewis Moody before he joins the west country team next term.
"We are in good shape," said Tigers head coach Richard Cockerill. "Fitness-wise, we're all good. Other than a couple of long-term injuries, everybody is fit and available. There are two very good teams in the final. Both teams have scored plenty of tries, and it will come down to small margins - the team that makes the fewest mistakes and makes the most of their chances."
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