Hartley urges Saints not to let hard work go to waste

Dylan Hartley has urged his Saints team-mates not to let a season’s hard work go to waste when they square up to Saracens on Sunday.

Northampton have made the Premiership play-off semi-final stage for the fourth time in succession, and are now aiming to make their first league showpiece.

RALLYING CALL - Dylan Hartley has told his Saints team-mates to ensure their season doesn't end on Sunday (picture by Linda Dawson)

RALLYING CALL - Dylan Hartley has told his Saints team-mates to ensure their season doesn't end on Sunday (picture by Linda Dawson)

Saints had looked to be struggling to make the top four at points during the campaign, but eventually secured their place with a game to go.

And skipper Hartley is now desperate to help his side go all the way to Twickenham and avoid more semi-final heartache.

“If we don’t win this weekend it’s all over and we’ve got another season where we’ve ground it out, we’ve made top four,” he said.

“Especially this season. Other years we’ve had a good run, but this time we’ve had to really work for it and it would be a shame to see all that hard work go down the drain again.

“I suppose we’re under the radar. No one’s really counted us as champs, but we believe we can do it and we’re two games away from it.”

Saints will be taking something of a step into the unknown on Sunday as they play on Saracens’ artificial pitch for the first time.

The Londoners have won all six of their games at their new Copthall home, but Mallinder has taken his men to train on Tresham College’s 3G surface this week in a bid to prepare them for the play-off.

And Hartley said: “It’s just another surface. I remember playing at Worcester this year in mud and sand. It’s just another different surface so I’m not really looking into that too much.

“It takes a stud like the grass would and speaking to other players who’ve played on it, if you win the hit, you’re more than likely going to win the scrum there so there’s been a lot of focus on gaining ascendancy there this week.”

Hartley is one of a number of players to have turned out in all three of Saints’ recent play-off semi-final clashes and he is eager to ensure a happier ending is forthcoming this time.

And he also wants to make sure players such as Soane Tonga’uiha and Brian Mujati, who are leaving the club this summer, are given a good send off.

“I’m desperate,” said Hartley. “Four years now and you think about some boys coming to the end of an era in a Saints shirt and we want to send them off with a big smile on their face and a trophy.”