England’s Elliot Daly wants Saracens to use their return to action at Bristol on Saturday to start building momentum ahead of next month’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final tie with Leinster.
The Gallagher Premiership will resume on Friday, 159 days after the coronavirus pandemic brought it to a halt.
Saracens have little to play for after they were relegated following repeated salary cap breaches, but, with a last-eight European clash pencilled in for September 19, Mark McCall’s side have a target to focus on.
“We have quite a few games to get into form again, to play well as a team and create some momentum ahead of that because we will need it against a good Leinster side,” Daly said.
“To build for that, it will take our whole squad to get us there. These next few games in the Premiership are important to get momentum going.
🚨 QUARTER-FINAL UPDATE 🚨
EPCR can confirm that the #HeinekenChampionsCup knockouts will be held over the weekend of the 18th, 19th and 20th September 🙌
Who's excited? 👀
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) June 25, 2020
“Usually winning games gives you momentum and playing well, so there is a big emphasis on what we do here as a team and as a club to try and push forward.”
If Saracens can get past Leinster, the team they beat in the final in 2019, they will play in the last four a week later, while the final is set to be staged in Marseille on October 17.
Were McCall’s men to make it there, they could have to juggle life in the Championship with the glamour of another Champions Cup final.
Sarries back Daly added: “We know exactly what we need to do in this block of games leading up to the quarter-finals.
“After that I think we will logically look at if we make it through to the semi-finals, the next block of games and after that as well.
“If we are playing in the Championship and the Champions Cup at the same time, however it works I think for us it will be the next game mentality.
“Our squad is very good, the quality is all around and, if we do need to chop and change and bring people in, I think everyone is happy to do that.”
Daly was one of several England players to sign a long-term contract at Saracens recently in a major show of faith to the club.
Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Mako and Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje are all staying put despite relegation, ahead of next summer when the British and Irish Lions travel to South Africa.
Daly would love to be part of Warren Gatland’s squad and hopes he will be judged on his displays in an England shirt.
“I think Warren and the coaches will look at international games more than the club games,” the 27-year-old said.
“Personally I just need to get into that form where, if I am playing for England on that level, I just need try and play my best rugby to show myself off in that way.”
When the Premiership returns on Friday night all eyes will be on whether Harlequins and Sale follow the examples set by football and cricket in taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ex-Wasps wing Daly revealed the Saracens squad were yet to talk about the issue ahead of Saturday’s game at Bristol, but highlighted the work of team-mate Itoje in calling for change.
He said: “I think for me, it is supporting my team-mates and we have some people in our group, Maro especially, doing stuff on his platform, so to support someone like that is what I want to do.
“Obviously we will have a chat about it as a squad and, whatever we do, we will do together.”
Premiership players and staff have undergone regular Covid-19 tests in the build-up to the season restarting.
It has emerged that, should a club be unable to fulfil a fixture because of coronavirus, then the opposing team would be awarded a bonus-point win by a 20-0 scoreline, subject to ratification by a Premiership panel.
Daly added: “It is on us as individuals and on us as a club as well.
“It was drummed into us this week again how important all this is and to get back playing and for that to happen you have to know what the guidelines are.
“You need to make sure you are being proactive with them and putting yourself in the best place to come in and train and not put anyone at risk.”