Northampton Saints are 'nearly men for too long'

Boss believes Saints can topple Tigers

Northampton Saints flanker Tom Wood has said it is time the club started winning on the big occasions.

Saints face Leicester Tigers in Friday's Premiership semi-final after failing to beat them in nine attempts.

Wood's side have also lost Heineken Cup, LV= Cup and Premiership finals in the past three years.

He told BBC Radio Northampton: "I think Saints have to get better on big occasions. On the games that are billed through the roof, we've just stalled."

Wood added: "I don't know if we've been caught in the headlights or taken too long to ease into the game. I don't know."

Saints have fallen short on the big stage in recent years, losing the 2011 Heineken Cup final to Leinster and last season's Premiership final to the Tigers.

They were also LV=Cup runners-up this season and two years ago.

But the Franklin's Gardens side go up against their East Midlands rivals with home advantage and the knowledge that they finished second, compared to Leicester's fourth.

"I'm very comfortable with being the favourites," said 27-year-old England forward Wood.

"It's something Saints have to become comfortable with if we want to take the next step.

"Being the underdog just takes the pressure off. But that's not a position we want to be in long term, we want to be the champions and the ones everyone is chasing.

"We have to expect a lot of ourselves if we're going to start winning trophies. We've been nearly men for too long.

"We really need to make sure we take control the game and not wait 20 minutes to think 'we can play', or wait for a kick up the backside at half-time to rip into the game."

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