Donal Lenihan believes Saracens will be akin to a "dangerous animal" by the time the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Leinster comes around in April.

The reigning European champions will go into that Aviva Stadium encounter under a cloud, with their relegation from the Gallagher Premiership for salary cap breaches already confirmed.

But former Ireland lock Lenihan told RTÉ 2fm's Game On that Saracens' players will want to make a statement in the only competition in which they have anything to play for.

"The bottom line is in the Premiership they're relegated," he said.

"They had a different fight on their hands prior to Saturday. As we know, they had been deducted 35 points, so they were putting all their efforts into making sure they stay up.

"But that's gone from them now. So the only chance they have of silverware, of making a statement in terms of resilience within the group is to come back and win the Champions Cup.

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"I think they'll be a very dangerous animal. They're not going to shed any of their players by the time that quarter-final comes around.

"And there isn't a salary cap in Europe anyway. If they lose that game, they won't be involved in the Champions Cup for at least two years.

"So I think that makes them a dangerous animal. I think a lot of their players will want to make a statement because the bottom line is Saracens treat their players well.

"The problem is they treated them too well. They broke the rules and they're suffering as a consequence."

Lenihan added that it was unfortunate for Leinster to face a team of that stature so early in the Champions Cup, having impressed in the pool stages.

"So many things had to happen for those two giants to come together," he said.

"Finalists last year in Newcastle, it's incredible really.

"It's very tough on Leinster. I mean, you win six from six and 28 out of a possible 30 points and then you end up having to host the holders."

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