Burrell delighted as Saints begin title defence in style

Luther Burrell celebrates scoring the first of his two tries against Gloucester on Friday night (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Luther Burrell celebrates scoring the first of his two tries against Gloucester on Friday night (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Luther Burrell believes Saints’ opening-day demolition of Gloucester displayed the squad’s humility.

Jim Mallinder’s men ran in eight tries as they got their title defence off to the slickest of starts.

Questions had been raised about Saints’ ability to retain the crown they claimed at Twickenham in May.

But Burrell feels Friday night’s flaying of the Cherry and Whites has shown he and his team-mates are willing to work even harder to become champions again.

“If anything it shows we’re a very grounded team,” said the England centre, who scored two tries in the thumping 53-6 success at Franklin’s Gardens.

“We’ve not got carried away with last season and we’re still a team that prides ourselves on our work rate.

“We’ve got our feet on the ground and we’re trying to get better and better each week.

“We’re under a lot of pressure this season because not just teams but media as well have probably written us off and think we can’t back up what was a successful season last year. We’re not going to read too much into that.

“We know exactly what we’ve got to do, we’re a very cohesive unit, a close-knit group like a bunch of friends who want to work hard for each other. That really showed on Friday and it was fantastic to be part of.”

Saints had suffered a 27-25 friendly defeat at Newport-Gwent Dragons just a week earlier, bringing the curtain down on a tricky pre-season campaign.

And Burrell feels the difficulty of the preparation matches stood his side in good stead for the visit of a Gloucester team boasting a host of new players.

“It’s testament to the coaching staff and the group of players,” he said. “We’ve worked hard throughout pre-season, we’ve had some gruelling pre-season games.

“Leinster came here and we went to Newport and lost last week. We were a bit gutted with that performance last week, we didn’t really get any momentum into that game, so to come out on a Friday night in front of a full house and to put a performance like that out there was absolutely fantastic.”