Sean Maitland says Saracens will come at Leinster with "nothing to lose" when the sides clash in Saturday's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final.

The repeat of last year’s final comprises of two teams approaching the knock-out game from very different places.

Leinster, beaten 20-10 by Sarries in the May 2019 decider, arrive on the back of a 25-game winning run and added a third Guinness Pro14 trophy in a row to their cabinet on Saturday night.

In January the English champions learned they would be relegated to the second tier in England after a points deduction as a penalty for salary cap breaches. They were also fined £5.4million.

They avoided expulsion from the Champions Cup the following month when organisers decided that a fine of £42,500 would suffice after they fielded ineligible prop Titi Lamositele against Racing 92 in the pool stages.

There was also a change of chairman at the London club, and all of this came before the season was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak.

They’ve had to play a series of meaningless Premiership games and to make matters worse they lost England captain and talisman Owen Farrell to suspension for a dangerous tackle in their loss to Wasps two weeks ago.

"It’s been a weird old season, a lot of curveballs thrown at us the whole year," says Maitland, who turned 32 on Monday.

"It’s been a tricky one, in the back of my mind we’ve always had this game.

"Actually, this is the only game that really means anything to us but at the same time it’s been so good for our young guys to get out.

"The older boys like me have been really building up to this as it’s the only one of significance. 

"It's going to be a tough game, we all know that, they’re the form team coming into this game full of confidence after winning the Pro14. 

"It’s a massive game. I don’t have to say too much about European rugby and what’s gone on in the club over the last four or five years.

"It doesn’t get any better, playing Leinster at Aviva, of course, there's no fans, which is a shame but we've played them a lot in the last couple of years, two years ago, played quarter-final, and final last year so, sure, there's a lot of motivation." 

New Zealand-born Maitland has won 48 Scotland caps and was a try-scorer in last year’s final against Leo Cullen’s men.

Due to the extended season Saracens will take on Leinster without a number of players who started the campaign, among them George Kruis, Ben Spencer, Will Skelton and Matt Gallagher, who left for Munster.

Maitland was one of those who stayed and faces a season in the Championship with no prospect of European action.

The winger says signing a new contract recently was the right call in his circumstances.

"I just turned 32 so I’m not getting any younger," he says.

"I love it here and would love to have been playing in the Premiership next year.

"The club have done so much for me. I’ve got two young kids and one on the way, for me to leave it would have been a bit of a logistical nightmare.

"I’m happy here and to stay another couple of years, and hopefully get back from the Championship.

"Next year will be good for my body. Hopefully I’ll get plenty of rest, which would be a big positive for myself, to try and come back up to the Prem the year after and try to win something.

"That would be something special in the history books.


"That excites me, but it would be amazing to beat Leinster given how the season has gone and the adversity we’ve had to put up with

"That would be pretty special but we know it’s going to be a big game and it’s going to be tough as well." 

Saracens have won the competition in three of the last four seasons, with Saturday’s opponents getting their hands on the cup in 2018.

"We’ve nothing to lose, it’s going to be special," he says. "We’ve got to be confident. Hopefully we'll get a good result but we’ll see, we know it will be a tough game. 

"It’s about matching them physically, they are a team that love getting over the gain line, they’re physical, they love to get their half-backs into the game, for us it’s about stopping their momentum. 

"The second thing is shutting down their kicking game.

"Johnny Sexton loves to manipulate the back three so for me on wing, it’s about trying to read his body language and pictures he presents." 

Follow the Champions Cup quarter-final between Leinster and Saracens (3pm Saturday) with our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News app or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1