FEATURE INTERVIEW | Alex Austerberry
According to Eddie Cochran there are only “Three Steps to Heaven”. As far as Alex Austerberry is concerned there are four!
Step One was to ensure his Saracens Women’s side qualified for the play-offs in the Allianz Premier15s.Step Two was to bag a home semi-final, which was clinched with a 41-33 win over Sale Sharks at StoneX. The 35-20 home win over Gloucester-Hartpury guaranteed top spot with two games still to go.
Step Three will be making the most of the home draw in the semi-finals.
Step Four will be going one better than last year and winning the final.
“Finishing at the top of the table with two games still to go is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the squad and is an achievement that unfortunately tends to get overlooked,” said Austerberry.
“We have to huge games with which to finish off the regular league season, against Exeter Chiefs and Wasps, and then it will be on to the knock-out phase.”
Before Austerberry’s side gets the chance to host Exeter on 7 May when the league resumes, there will be a Premier15s Cup clash with the Chiefs at StoneX on 2 April. The Cup fixtures are being played while the TikTok Women’s Six Nations takes place over a six-week period.
Saracens are providing nine players to the England camp, two to the Scottish squad and two more to the Welsh squad. It means it is going to be a tense period for Austerberry and his coaches.
“I won’t be watching the Six Nations games from behind the sofa, but I might see a few bits of the games with my hands over my eyes. As a fan I love watching the games and supporting the Red Roses,” he explained.
“But then there is a part of me that looks on as Saracens coach. I want to see all our girls do well, but I don’t want to see any of them get injured.
“We’ve already lost Georgia Evans with a broken arm and Cara Wardle with a broken bone in her foot. The signs are they could both be back to perhaps play some part in the knock-out games and I don’t want to see anyone else go down.
“The great thing is we have built up even greater strength in depth this season and everyone is fighting hard for their place in the team. That goes for the established internationals as well as those who have not yet reached that level.
“The more competition there is for places, the higher the standards are driven in training and in games. If our players can enjoy success in the Six Nations, then they will return to us with a taste for more and that will become infectious.
“While I’m delighted we are where we are, there is no divine right for us to go on to win the title just because we’ve topped the league with two games to go. Everyone is going to be gunning for us after the Six Nations and we have to stay as professional as possible.
“This isn’t the stage of the season when the prizes and handed out. That comes at the end of the final on 4 June.”