Haywood hoping Saints can summon spirit of 2011 at Castres

Mike Haywood (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Mike Haywood (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Mike Haywood is hoping Saints can put previous Castres disappointments behind them when they head to Stade Pierre Antoine on Saturday.

Jim Mallinder’s men have lost their previous two games at Castres in Europe’s premier competition, with their most recent win there coming in January, 2011.

Saints reached the Heineken Cup final that season, earning six victories from as many matches in the pool stages.

And Haywood wants them to make it two from two in this season’s Champions Cup by seeing off Castres on their home turf.

“I saw 2011 is the last time we won there, so we’re due a win, aren’t we?,” said the hooker, who did not play in that 2011 win, with Dylan Hartley starting and Brett Sharman on the bench.

“But it’s a tough place to go because they’re going to be big and we’ve just got to make sure we’re firing on all cylinders.

“On European nights they can put in a big performance and blow teams away.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Saints certainly met the challenge of Montpellier last weekend, combatting a huge visiting pack to produce a 16-14 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.

And Haywood, who wore the No.2 shirt in that game, said: “They were huge!

“After the game I tried to look at the weight differences because I thought we lost at least a stone per person.

“I was walking to a lineout looking at Woody (Tom Wood) next to (Nemani) Nadolo and the difference was unbelievable - and he (Nadolo) is a winger!

“Normally French packs talk about set piece so we had to match them there.

“For us this season, we’ve put 100 per cent effort in and we’ve been pretty good in defence so against bigger people, it’s just bigger things to hit.

“If it’s 10 minutes into the game, no (it’s not fun to face them) because they’re fresh and up for it, then 20 minutes in they’re going to be a bit tired and you can start getting off the line and hitting them.

“We talked about running Montpellier round the field and if it takes 30 minutes to get them to tire, the next 10 minutes are when we’ve got to target the set piece.”

Saints’ pack was shorn of some key men last weekend, with Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Christian Day sidelined.

But they performed well, with Haywood highlighting the contribution of one of this season’s unsung heroes.

“Michael Paterson has been one of our stand-out players generally, in terms of work rate and game play,” Haywood said.

“We had a kick that hit the post and he ran downfield and stopped the ball leaving the 22 and that makes a huge difference.”

Another player Haywood has been impressed with is Charlie Clare.

The 24-year-old moved to Saints from Bedford Blues during the summer and has been on the bench of late, with Hartley out injured.

“He’s doing really well,” Haywood said.

“He’s been throwing really well in the lineout sessions and watching him for the Wandies, he’s been good.

“His work rate is awesome, he’s a big fella as well and it’s good to have the competition at the club.

“I used to play with him as a youngster in Eastern Counties.

“I played with him at Under 15s and he’s a good fella, quite funny.

“It’s good having him here. It was good competition back then and it’s good having him here now.”