Blog Banner

Saracens fixtures prime examples of why we're in this business - Mulvihill

7th December 2018

John Mulvihill believes the upcoming Heineken Champions Cup back-to-back fixtures against Saracens are prime examples of why players are desperate to feature in Europe's premier club competition.

Cardiff Blues return to European action with a trip to Allianz Park on Sunday, where they face a Saracens side that have remained unbeaten this season.

The following Saturday, a return leg sees the English champions visit the Welsh capital for the first time since October 2005, and the head coach wants to see his side step up in all areas of the game over the next couple of weeks.

“It’s a reward for the boys’ performances last year, which got them into this competition,” said the Australian.

“We certainly didn’t let ourselves down when we played Lyon away earlier in the season, and that’s the way we’re approaching this one.

“We’ve had a pretty good build up to the game on Sunday, but we’ve only got six days to get it right or do it again the following week. 

“It’ll be pretty tough for the boys, but they play them game because they want to play the best and they’ll get a chance to do that on Sunday.

“This time of year you pick the best team available to you, and then marry that up with the way you want to play with those boys.

“We have to make sure we prepare really well and turn up every day. We’re not a team that can afford to have an off-day. 

“We’re a team that - physically, emotionally and mentally - have to step up every week.

“You do things during the week where you have your down-days during training, but also your spikes, so that we’re not always red-lining the players.

“The big thing I’ve learnt from being here, is that I’ve got to protect what I’ve got and if we do that, then hopefully we’ll get most of our best players on the week for as many weeks in a row as possible.”

Gareth Anscombe returns from international duty to pull on the number 10 jersey, as Jarrod Evans makes his first senior start at inside centre.

Mulvihill is excited by the new-look partnership between the playmakers, and hopes it will allow his side to play an attacking and expansive brand of rugby in London.

Mulvihill said; “Gareth Anscombe came through the autumn series and played fantastically at number 10 for Wales, and there’s no reason for him not to be involved with us this week.

“Jarrod is a really good ball-player and we’ll need to really move the ball against Sarries if we want to cause them some harm.

“A lot of teams have tried to go through them and they will stand up physically.

“If we can move the ball, and move their defence around, it could give us a chance to make some inroads and hit some holes.

“If we have two good ball-players, and Matthew Morgan stepping up on the short side, it will make things a little bit interesting.

“You look at their last four Premiership games and they’ve all been quite tight for a long time.

“Against Wasps it was only 9-6 at half time before they ran away. Sale had opportunities against them and so did Leicester.

“All those teams used the ball quite well against them and that’s something we’ve learnt from. We’ll try to push them as far as we can.”