Paul Doran-Jones believes Northampton Saints’ journey to the LV= Cup final has bonded the squad into a tight-knit force that can beat Leicester.
The Saints prop was one of eight new signings to arrive at Franklin’s Gardens in the summer and they have all been important components with the club’s internationals away.
After a shaky start to the campaign during the World Cup – when Saints lost four of their first five games – the new players have come together to drive Jim Mallinder’s side to a second Anglo-Welsh Cup final in three seasons and maintain their top-four Premiership status during the Six Nations.
“The cup definitely bonded us as a squad,” said Doran-Jones, who joined from Gloucester.
“We struggled while the internationals were away at the start of the season.
“But we have had the chance to bed down and get some game-time together.
“We have grown week on week. During this last period without the internationals we have taken points from every game and have had some really positive performances.
“It has been massive for some of the guys and we are really looking forward to topping it off with some silverware.”
Doran-Jones will be playing in his first cup final tomorrow but it is Saints’ fifth in five seasons with Mallinder at the helm.
It is a remarkable record, with only last season’s Heineken Cup final ending in defeat.
Leicester have not been in a cup final since 2008 when they beat lost to Ospreys in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, having beaten them the year before in what was the EDF Energy Cup.
Doran-Jones is hoping to extend the Tigers’ five-year wait to lift the cup for another year, although he says it will be close and could well come down to a single mistake tomorrow.
“It is great to be involved in a final, it is going to be a big spectacle,” said Doran-Jones.
“Leicester are past masters at not making errors and putting a lot of pressure on the opposition.
“We have to make sure we are squeaky clean at the back and playing field position and territory, waiting for that error.
“I think it could come down to an individual error – that is how tight this game is going to be.”