PREMIERSHIP-WINNER Andy Saull says Yorkshire Carnegie can show their squad quality as the unbeaten Championship side break off today for British & Irish Cup action.
The ex-England Saxons flanker, who lifted the title with Saracens in 2011, admits promotion is the club’s primary goal and they have started well with six wins from six outings.
They have a fortnight before their league fixture, however, against leaders London Irish and head coach Bryan Redpath will get to cast his eye over some of his fringe players in the B&I Cup opener at Ealing Trailfinders this afternoon.
Saull, 28, said: “We’re six from six and the guys who have played in those games have done exceptionally well.
“But the B&I Cup is a nice chance to use the rest of the squad and hopefully see them push for places the next set of Championship games while also trying to win the silverware of B&I itself, too. It’s been huge to get the start we have. Obviously we’re looking for promotion and nothing else will do for us this season.
“To win six and in the way we have is pleasing; we’ve improved game on game and won where previously we’d have lost.
“We’ve shown resilience so we’re really thrilled to be unbeaten so far.”
They are familiar with today’s opponents, too, having won 30-13 at Ealing on the opening day of the season.
Their hosts, of course, have an artificial pitch but openside Saull – who played for Saracens when they became the first English rugby union club to use one in 2013 – has no problem with the synthetic surface.
“I was fortunate enough to spend a few seasons playing on them at previous clubs,” he said.
“I like them. I’m not the biggest of guys so I can bounce around on them. It’s definitely a different ball game; the bounce of the ball can really change direction at any minute.
“It’s a lot harder, too, with the contact and it’s a lot harder to make the tackle and knock people over. But we played there and beat them already so hopefully we can do again.”
Saull, who has played in four of the six games so far, gets a chance to enhance his chances of a regular place again today. He will look to take it given how stiff the competition is in his No7 role.
“There are a lot of opensides and there was quite a few of us last year, too,” he said, when he managed 19 appearances – and 13 tries – following his switch from Newcastle Falcons.
“Richard Mayhew’s signed this time as well and he’s a good adversary from my Newcastle days so I’m buzzing he’s here.
“He’s playing really well and we’ve still got Josh Bainbridge to come back from injury.
“He obviously won the Under 20s World Cup with England in the summer so he’s a very good talent.
“Then there’s Chris Walker. We were both vying for shirt last year so there’s really good competition but that’s shining through as the back-row’s performing exceptionally well.”
Redpath makes fourteen changes to his starting line up for the clash at Ealing.
Saull is the only player to retain his place in the side from last week. Fly-half Warren Seals, hooker Ross Graham, second row Jack Whetton and prop James Thraves will start their first games for the club.
Hooker Mike Mayhew is set to make his debut off the bench after overcoming injury while Oliver Fox will make his first appearance for the club having emerged from the Carnegie Academy.