Hartley: Saints won’t be intimidated by Clermont Auvergne

Dylan Hartley insists Saints are not daunted by their Clermont challenge (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Dylan Hartley insists Saints are not daunted by their Clermont challenge (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Dylan Hartley has stressed that Saints will not be intimidated by Clermont Auvergne.

And the skipper says he and his fellow forwards are desperate to lay the foundations for a Champions Cup quarter-final victory at Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday evening.

Clermont currently boast a 22-match unbeaten run on home soil and have not lost at home in Europe since Sale beat them in 2008.

But Hartley insists he and his team-mates will not be daunted by the challenge that lies in wait, and he knows what they have to do to make the semi-finals.

“You’ve got to be respectful of them and the challenge of playing there, but not intimidated or afraid,” said the England star.

“We’ve spoken about that as a forward pack especially, because if we turn up and manage our part of the game that can flow into the rest of the game.

“If we turn up and get dominated, we’re going to make it hard for the rest of the team, so we’ve spoken about that.”

And he added: “You can see it (the desire to win) in the preparation, the meetings, the huddles on the field. The players take the lead. Calum Clark spoke very well this week.

“You don’t need a rocket up the backside to be prepared for a game like this - it’s do or die.

“We’ve got nine games left in our season potentially and we want to be contesting in the latter stages of these big tournaments.

“We’ve won the Premiership and we want to win it again this year, but as a squad we want to progress and win bigger things - and the European Cup is that.

“Our squad responds well to a challenge and we’re fully aware of where we want to be.

“There’s not the big motivational chat, everyone’s clued up and we know what we’ve got to do.”

Hartley says last season’s Aviva Premiership triumph temporarily sated the appetite for silverware at Saints.

But now he is hungrier than ever to deliver the biggest prize in European club rugby.

“Now we’ve won it (the Premiership), it’s like, come on, we need to win something else,” said Hartley.

“We missed out in the LV= Cup and though it’s not the Premiership or the European Cup, it’s another tournament that we’ve made the latter stages of and not won.

“It feels like we’ve put the effort in to get this far in the tournament and we should really progress to a final and give ourselves a good chance.

“It’s a progression from going from a good club to a great club.

“Winning the Premiership is a very difficult task and we’d never done it until last year. We want to do it again this year.

“But this is a bigger challenge. You’re playing against the best of the best in Europe and for us at the moment, playing in a European quarter-final away is our biggest challenge so far.”