Dylan Hartley: Northampton Saints want to challenge for double

Northampton Saints celebrate winning the Challenge Cup
Saints lifted the Amlin challenge Cup on their way to the Premiership title last season

Northampton Saints can compete for a domestic and European double this season, says captain Dylan Hartley.

The Premiership champions start their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign at Racing Metro on Saturday.

"I think it's possible for us to put ourselves into a good position," Hartley told BBC Radio Northampton.

"But the hardest game is the first game because it's away from home. We have to make sure we're in the right position when it gets to the knockout stages."

Northampton's Pool 5 fixtures
Racing Metro 92 (a) 18 OctBenetton Treviso (h) 13 Dec
Ospreys (h) 25 OctOspreys (a) 16/17/18 Jan
Benetton Treviso (a) 6 DecRacing Metro 92 (h) 23/24/25 Jan

Saints ended a four-year wait for a trophy last season by claiming the Amlin Challenge Cup and their first ever Premiership title, but the top European prize has eluded them since winning the Heineken Cup in 2000.

Europe's premier competition has been restructured this year but the importance of getting results in the group stage remains.

Saints won four of their six pool games last season, but failed to make it to the knockout rounds.

"It's basically a knockout tournament. If you're not going to win your home games and a couple of away games you're not going to progress," said the England hooker.

"It's a compressed season with a two-week block to set ourselves up or bow our out of a competition.

"We've got a strong squad and luckily we're playing good rugby and we're confident at the moment."

Listen to 5 live Rugby on Thursday from 19:30 BST for more on the first weekend of the European Rugby Champions Cup. Former Bath and England prop David Flatman and Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards are among the studio guests, and you will also hear from Bernard Laporte, George North and the Bath head coach Mike Ford. If you miss the show you can download the podcast here.

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