PRESS NOTES | Alex Austerberry (PWR Rd-3)
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry is expecting a full-blooded encounter as his side make the trip to face Harlequins Women this weekend.
Saracens Women have started the campaign with two bonus point victories and the DoR explained that he had been really pleased with a large portion of what he’d seen from his side.
“It’s been a really good start. We’ve hit the ground running and there have been some really good positive aspects. The first thirty minutes against Trailfinders was a brilliant account of who we want to be as a side and where we can go as a side. We want to be a bit more clinical, but a coach is never going to be happy. You can’t do any more than we’ve done from the first two games, but there’s plenty to learn from. You don’t want to peak in the first two matches of the season.”
Facing Harlequins though is an altogether different challenge for Austerberry’s side. The West Londoners handed Sarries their first defeat of the campaign last season and there is always an element of added spice when the two sides face each other. Austerberry feels that this weekend will be a true litmus test for where his side are at.
“We want to really drive our standards forward and Harlequins away from home will be a great test of where we’re at. Can we be consistent and build on what we’ve done? This season, you need to be at your best in the big games and Saturday is one of those.”
Harlequins will be smarting from last weekend’s surprise defeat to Sale Sharks and Austerberry explained that the strength of the league was growing week-by-week, asserting though that wins and losses at this stage of the season won’t define a campaign.
“Nothing ever surprises me in this league. Matches can be defined by a single moment. You always need to be on your game if you want to maximise your opportunities. Teams now across the league will punish you and I’m not surprised by any results that we’ve seen so far. I don’t think a defeat or a victory at this stage of the season will define anybody’s campaign. There are a lot of tough matches to come for everyone. There are going to be some epic encounters and it’s going to be small margins that define games.”
Last season, Saracens were guilty of starting matches slowly, something that they have looked to rectify this season. Austerberry has challenged his side to stick in the battle this weekend and fight through the adversity they will encounter throughout the match.
“Hopefully we can bottle what we’ve had at the start and keep pushing into the rest of the season. The mindset of these players is that they always want to perform. If we look back a few seasons ago, we tended to struggle with the start of games. We’ve really improved on that, but momentum is key. If something goes against you, you need to rectify it quickly, especially away from home. As a team, you can’t compound your errors, but you need to be confident in yourselves and your systems. There will be moments in games where your structures are tested and how you come through that adversity is what defines you as a team. I have every confidence that this group will start well on Saturday and can navigate through the tough moments on Saturday.”