Press Notes | Alex Austerberry (PWR Rd-1)
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry was in fine form ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby opener against Loughborough Lightning at StoneX!
With the new league campaign starting this weekend, Austerberry admitted that the overriding feeling was excitement when looking at his selection choices for the match.
“This group is probably the deepest we’ve had. There’s competition and depth right across the board. This is a really talented group, but it needs to be with the strength of the league this season. This group has real potential and I’m really excited by it.”
A hugely impressive cup campaign saw the side top their group and Austerberry feels that the group he has had available have put the team in a hugely strong position going into the league campaign.
“The players that have been here throughout the cup run have done a great job. They’ve found their feet and have really been performing to help put us in the best place possible for this weekend. We’ve had a fair few come back in over the last few weeks, but it’s essential that you keep the home fires burning whilst the internationals are away, and we’ve certainly done that.”
There have been several new additions to the Saracens side this season, with Sophie de Goede returning to the fold arguably the headline news. Austerberry admitted that he was thrilled to have the Canadian captain back at StoneX and explained that having such strength in depth would only help drive his players to reach world class standard.
“We saw Sophie last in that Covid impacted year, but she really showed her quality. She’s a great leader of people, alongside the other great leaders we have in the squad. To have players of the ilk of Sophie is fantastic. It’s great to have brilliant players challenging each other in different positions because that’s what leads to players becoming world class.”
Fellow internationals Rosie Galligan and Emma Taylor have also returned to Saracens this summer and Austerberry feels that their return is testament to the environment created at Saracens.
“We’ve got Emma and Rosie coming back in too and that shows us everything about the environment that we have. They see it as a place where they can truly excel and be challenged. Ultimately, that pushes Saracens forwards to hopefully be contenders and establish ourselves at the top of the league.”
The DoR also took time to praise his co-captain Marlie Packer, after her return to the club after being named as World Player of the Year.
“It's brilliant. It’s a great credit to Marlie. She’s always been up there as one of the best and she really deserves the accolades. She’s a great character to have off the field and a great leader on the field too.”
Another England international who’s return in keenly anticipated is fly-half Zoe Harrison. The Red Rose has been out injured since February after suffering an ACL injury and Austerberry took the time to give an update on her fitness, as she edges back closer to a competitive return to action.
“Hopefully we’ll see Zoe soon. It’s now session by session to see when she’s back out on the pitch. She’s done some exceptional work in training and fair credit to her and the medical and S&C teams for getting her back to the position that she is. She looks in real fine fettle and we’ve been really impressed with how she’s got herself back to where she is now. She’s chomping at the bit, but we need to make sure it’s the right time to reintegrate her into the team.”