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Saracens forward George Kruis says Men in Black ready to fight Europe's top clubs after muscle-focused pre-season
Saracens have placed a special emphasis on bulking up in pre-season with the aim of matching Europe’s top clubs in strength and size, says Sarries forward George Kruis.
The Men in Black were given a wake-up call two seasons ago when they were physically blown away by Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals but a stronger and more cohesive pack helped Sarries go one stage further last term, before losing to eventual winners Toulon.
Ahead of Saracens’ opening game of the season against London Irish on Saturday, Kruis says muscle mass remains a priority for the squad and believes that focus also explains some of the club’s new signings.
“When we played someone like Clermont two years ago we realised in the European competitions that size is a big thing and as a result of that we’ve put more emphasis on building a bigger pack for this year and that will help us big time,” Kruis said.
“James (Johnston) and Billy (Vunipola) have both come in and they are huge guys and they add a great presence in the pack – those kind of guys can definitely make a difference.
“Our pre-season has been tailored to mass gain more so than in previous years – we’ve realised that you come across big teams in the Heineken Cup so it’s essential that everyone can push their own weight around.”
Saracens finished top of the Premiership for the first time in the club’s history last season but a galling semi-final loss to Northampton Saints meant the campaign ended on a sour note.
“I think obviously everyone has been waiting a long time to correct what went wrong last year and everyone’s looking forward to the first game to get the campaign off to the best possible start,” Kruis continued.
“We got to three semi-finals last year and the final of the A-League as well so there’s a lot we can take from that.
“The fact we’re getting to the latter stages of these tournaments is important. We’ve built on our squad and hopefully this season we can get some silverware.”
Kruis enjoyed an impressive campaign last season in the Sarries second row and his performances earned him a call-up to the England Saxons squad.
“I was named in the Saxons squad last season and I want to keep pushing that. I’ve got my eye on an international spot like anyone else but it’s all about playing well for your club,” he added.
“Your club is where you have to perform week in week out and then anything that comes after that is a bonus.
“We’re all looking forward to the start of the year and the London Irish game will be a good benchmark on Saturday for where we’re at. It should be a good contest.”
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