Championship: Cornish Pirates ready for Saracens test, says coach Alan Paver

Cornish Pirates v Jersey Reds
Cornish Pirates made the Championship play-off final in 2011 and 2012, but have never played in the Premiership

Cornish Pirates joint head coach Alan Paver is confident his side can give Saracens a tough test when they start their Championship campaign next week.

Former European and English champions Saracens were relegated last season after breaking salary cap rules.

They begin the season with a trip to Penzance to take on the Pirates.

"We recognise we are playing Saracens, but we are not playing the guys who won the European Cups," Paver told BBC Radio Cornwall.

"We are playing a very good Championship side who've got some Premiership experience. So we've got a great opportunity to showcase what we're about at home.

"When you've got 22 people who are extremely motivated, plus coaches, plus staff and all the rest of it, you never know."

The delayed Championship season starts next Saturday (6 March), almost a year after the last campaign was brought to a halt by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saracens will be without England players Owen Farrell, Vunipola brothers Billy and Mako, Jamie George and Maro Itoje due to the Six Nations and have lost twice to Championship rivals Ealing in warm-up matches.

"You've only got to look at Ealing, I think they put the frighteners up them and they now fully understand what the Championship's all about," Paver added after the Pirates beat Jersey Reds 26-13 in their only pre-season match.

The Pirates scored four tries in their first game of any description since they won at Ampthill on 14 March 2020, and Paver was pleased with how his team fared against a Jersey side who will take on Saracens in the second round of Championship fixtures.

"There was a lot of energy and a lot of things that were positive that came out of the game - systems and processes worked well," Paver added.

"The only thing, which we expected, was there were a few handling errors that really took the shine off the performance, because we were probably worth another 10 or 15 points at least."

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