Barritt: ‘Saracens hunger hasn’t faded’

Date published: July 8 2016

There’s not a lot that Brad Barritt hasn’t seen or done during his eight years with Saracens. Starting a new campaign though as Premiership and European champions presents a set of unique challenges. 

If Saracens are to match those achievements this season then you sense the biggest battles will be in the mind as much as the physical efforts.

Settling on old success is the pitfall waiting for Saracens to stumble into. Barritt unsurprisingly feels confident that they can find a way around it.

“There’s always a fresh page in the book. We’ve been together for a certain amount of years, we’re back-to-back Premiership champions and also European champions. I think the hunger and desire has got to be there and I have no doubt it will be,” he said.

“You can see by the attitude at training yesterday just how much it means to represent Saracens, and the team will be in a great frame of mind come the first of September.”

Barritt anyway has had the time since that Premiership triumph to take stock and rest up, savouring that incredible season which saw Saracens defeat Racing 92 to be crowned champions of Europe for the first time, before heading to Twickenham and holding off Exeter Chiefs to win a second straight title.

The buzz from that achievement gradually faded, with Barritt undergoing surgery on his shoulder from which he expects to have fully recovered from in time for the start of the new campaign, which includes a re-match with the Chiefs as early as the second weekend when Saracens head down to Sandy Park.

“With this Premiership it gets more competitive every year. For me it’s the most competitive domestic league in the world.

“There’s no easy games, home or away. Our minds will be focused on that first game at Twickenham [against Worcester] but then it’s always a great prospect to go down to Sandy Park, and in the second game too,” he said.

“To do the double… it was an amazing thing to happen. As with every season you spend the next day or two celebrating but slowly people start filtering away, going on holidays, having operations, guys going to meet up for international camps.

“The euphoria does settle down and you get back to enjoying your break.

“I will hopefully be back for the beginning of the season. I’ve obviously looked after it well during the break and done some rehab work away from England to do something different. I should be on schedule.”

That rehab process sounds a lot easier when you spend it on the beach in Greece. Barritt and his wife took their baby son there first before spending time back in South Africa around Durban, where Barritt made his professional debut with the Sharks before moving to Saracens in 2008.

Barritt’s pre-season training and ongoing rehabilitation was broken up too by a trip to Wimbledon on Wednesday, fulfilling a childhood ambition by taking a seat on centre court.

Those trips abroad of course happened while England were making history in Australia. Barritt’s last cap, his 26th, came against the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup and despite his excellent form for Saracens on their run to two trophies, there was no international recall from Eddie Jones.

No longer playing for England must sting but Barritt spoke highly of the Grand Slam winners’ achievements down in Australia, with a number of Saracens players at the heart of that effort.

“It was an unbelievable tour with some fantastic results. To come away with three wins… I’m sure the squad are absolutely delighted,” Barritt stated.

“To have such a strong core of players come through the Saracens academy to go into a Premiership team, European team and now to be doing the job on the international scene is fantastic for the club and English rugby.”

It’s because of that young group, spearheaded by Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola but including George Kruis, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola too, that Saracens seem set up to build a dynasty.

Barritt, as a key leader for the club and defensively proficient as ever, has a major role to play if the double winners are to make that happen. And in his eyes the club are stronger than ever.

“It’s been an evolution bringing the core of players through. Gone are the days when players are at Saracens for a season or two. We’re a tight group of players but more importantly a group who are spurred on by each other and who drive each other to achieve high standards.”

by Ben Coles