Northampton Saints try out 3G pitch to prepare for Saracens

Jim Mallinder

Northampton Saints have been training on an artificial surface to prepare for the Premiership semi-final at Saracens.

Allianz Park, Saracens' home since February, has the only synthetic grass pitch in English professional rugby.

"The lads enjoy playing on it. It makes for a fast surface," Saints boss Jim Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton.

"This is slightly narrower than the Saracens pitch, but in terms of the shock absorbency and the surface it's very similar."

Saracens earned the right to home advantage for Sunday's match by finishing top of the Premiership table in the regular season, and they are unbeaten at their new home in Barnet.

The synthetic surface makes for quick-paced games, but there have been concerns over the long-term impact on players' joints, something the Saints squad have raised while training on the 3G pitch at Tresham College near Kettering.

However, director of rugby Mallinder is confident his side can cope with the conditions on Sunday.

"A couple of them have complained about their knees being a bit sore, probably because they're not used to it," he said.

"It's fast. I guess there will be tries involved in the game. You can understand why breakdowns seem quick.

"The lads seem to be running quick and they've got that sense of it being a fast track.

"But the pitch is not something we're going to get too worried about."

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