Wig­glesworth stay­ing on for more tro­phy suc­cess

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

IN­FLU­EN­TIAL Sar­ries scrum-half Richard Wig­glesworth has re­vealed his de­vo­tion to win­ning per­suaded him to turn down big money of­fers from France.

Wig­glesworth, capped 27 times by Eng­land but sur­plus to re­quire­ments un­der Ed­die Jones, en­ters the Aviva Sta­dium against emo­tion­ally charged Mun­ster in Dublin this Satur­day as hold­ers Saracens bid to reach back-to-back Cham­pi­ons Cup fi­nals.

It is pre­cisely the kind of ex­pe­ri­ence Wig­glesworth felt he would put at risk by mov­ing abroad, with the 33year-old telling The Rugby

Pa­per: “The op­por­tu­nity to move to France came up in Jan­uary, but it wasn’t some­thing I’d chased and it wasn’t about the money.

“A few ex­tra quid might be nice now, but would it have made much dif­fer­ence in 20 years time when I look back? Prob­a­bly not. I en­joy what goes into win­ning and Saracens is not a club I ever want to leave.

“It might have been eas­ier to leave had Saracens not been the full pack­age of be­ing a great place to be day-to-day and us be­ing at the sharp end of all com­pe­ti­tions. Mov­ing might have been detri­men­tal to my de­sire to win – I’m al­ready in the right place for that.

“I didn’t want to miss out on my last few years at a place I love. I’ve got another cou­ple of years and feel as good as ever – no dif­fer­ent to when I first set out – so, hope­fully, I can con­tinue to con­trib­ute in a pos­i­tive way and win more tro­phies.”

To de­fend the Cham­pi­ons Cup, Saracens must first de­feat a re­vi­talised Mun­ster out­fit who are fu­elled by a fer­vent de­sire to hon­our their late coach, An­thony Fo­ley, with a first Euro­pean Cup ti­tle since Paul O’Con­nell’s side de­feated Toulouse in 2008.

Wig­glesworth needs no re­minder of the phys­i­cal and men­tal ex­am­i­na­tion ly­ing in wait, hav­ing been part of a Sale side that suc­cumbed 31-9 to Mun­ster in Lim­er­ick in 2006.

He re­called: “Mun­ster needed a four-try win to get through and they had all the en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm that day. They’re a top club with bril­liant fans and they’ll have twice the num­ber in Dublin this week, but this is why you play the game at this level.

“You play hard all sea­son to try and give your­self op­por­tu­ni­ties to win things and when you get to these big semi-fi­nals there’s def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent feel dur­ing the week. I’ve been in bear-pit at­mos­pheres plenty of times and these are the games to rel­ish.

“We’ll def­i­nitely have to talk about deal­ing with the emo­tional at­tach­ment of this game for Mun­ster. I can’t pre­tend to know how much it re­ally means to them or what An­thony Fo­ley did for Mun­ster, but he’s a leg­end and from all re­ports was the best bloke imag­in­able.

“It’s a heart-break­ing sit­u­a­tion for the club but the way they’ve come through it is some­thing you have to ad­mire. The Aviva Sta­dium will be rock­ing but I love places where your backs are up against the wall and the at­mos­phere will re­ally get our guys go­ing.”

As one of Premier­ship rugby’s most con­sis­tent per­form­ers, Wig­glesworth could be for­given for feel­ing miffed about his Eng­land ex­ile. In­stead, he re­flects: “I can’t say Ed­die Jones has made a mis­take be­cause he’s only lost one game since tak­ing charge.

“I’m a hugely proud English­man who loved ev­ery sec­ond of what was prob­a­bly too brief an Eng­land ca­reer for me to be happy with, but as long as I can look in the mir­ror and say I’ve done ev­ery­thing I can to play well, at some point you just have to ac­cept it.

“Se­lec­tion is one man’s opin­ion and I spent too many years in my twen­ties wor­ry­ing what oth­ers were do­ing. I only need to im­press the Sar­ries’ coaches now but if Ed­die wants me, I’m still keen!”

Be­com­ing a dou­ble ‘dou­ble’ win­ner would help. He added: “It’s a mas­sive ask to do what Le­ices­ter did in 2001 and 2002, but be­cause of our in­juries we’ve got more guys go­ing into the end of the sea­son fresher than they were last year.

“We might end up with both tro­phies or could get noth­ing, but we’re hun­gry to do some­thing spe­cial.”

In de­mand: Richard Wig­glesworth

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