Saracens star helps OA
SARACENS former New Zealand international scrum-half Justin Marshall this week presented Old Albanian Juniors with �1,000 worth of kit. Marshall picked up the Man of the Match award during Saracens 18-14 win over Castres in the Amlin Challenge Cup back
SARACENS' former New Zealand international scrum-half Justin Marshall this week presented Old Albanian Juniors with �1,000 worth of kit.
Marshall picked up the Man of the Match award during Saracens' 18-14 win over Castres in the Amlin Challenge Cup back in December. Winners of the Man of the Match awards during the 2009/10 Amlin Challenge Cup matches receive �1,000 worth of kit and equipment to donate to a rugby youth development scheme of the player's choice.
The 35-year-old, who is New Zealand's second most capped international, chose to support Old Albanian who received a bag containing a wide range of training equipment including balls, bibs and much more.
Saracens media manager Mike Hartwell said: "We have strong links with OAs training here, it's a fantastic, wonderful facility, and we're delighted that they allow us to train here every day. We just wanted to give something back to them, and the �1,000 donation of kit fitted in well with that."
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Marshall was full of praise for the facilities Saracens have available to them at Woollams and says he considers it one of the most professional set-ups he's experienced.
"To do the full set up here, and to have the facilities that we have now is absolutely brilliant," Marshall told the Herts Advertiser.
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"I've been around a few clubs since I've been in this part of the world and this set up we've got here is, if not the most, then very close to the most professional set up at all the clubs.
"We've now got the new gym over there, we've now got a rubber crumb facility, the club rooms and an abundance of fields, and also if you fancy it you can play a bit of tennis in the summer, it's perfectly suited for a rugby team and it's a multi purpose venue. There are also the lights so you can use it right through the day and evening.
"It's very nice to come to work, knowing you've got good playing surfaces as well. Around this time of the year, if you go around a lot of the training venues in the Premiership aren't in very good condition, but here they're in very, very good condition.
"We can choose to train on any one of them and get good underfoot conditions and that's what you're after at this time of the year.
"You don't want to be playing in the wet on weekends and the mud but also training on it week in week out can be very uncomfortable so we don't have that problem which is superb."
Marshall has been with Saracens for just over a year, having joined from Montpellier in January 2009 and the New Zealander is enjoying his time with Sarries.
"I really enjoy it, it's a very professional club but now I think everyone can see it's a very motivated club," said Marshall.
"This club wants to move quickly ahead of other clubs. It's innovative looking to take it away from home grounds, taking it to Wembley Stadium, introducing entertainment before the games and all the extra work that's gone into promoting the team with the crusader like medieval flags that they've introduced - that's taking it to the supporters and giving them something to identify with and that's what the club is about being proactive."
Saracens have made Wembley Stadium their second home this season and have enjoyed three straight victories there in front of massive crowds. Marshall has enjoyed the Wembley experience and says it's been good for the club both on and off the pitch.
"It's an iconic stadium and the history is well founded," he said.
"To be there at least four times this year, is very much a privilege and to have it as our home stadium, to have our flags being handed out, our programmes, our theme song being played and to have it as our stadium, not just as a venue that two teams are playing at for a publicity stunt and to have it as our second home, or we could almost call it our number one stadium is amazing.
"We've got favourable results since we've been there as well including beating the World champs so it's been good for us both on and off the field and to have it at our disposal is amazing as a player.