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Stevens enjoying second chance
Saracens switch has revitalised England prop
The focus at Saracens is on the individuals and their families. It's not just about what happens on the park and that has made it easy to stay focused and be healthy.
Quotes of the week
Saracens prop Matt Stevens starred in victory over his former team Bath and said the change of environment has helped him flourish once again.
Stevens continued his rehabilitation since completing a two-year ban issued for testing positive for cocaine with a man-of-the-match display in Sarries' 20-9 Aviva Premiership success.
It was the 28-year-old's eighth appearance since his suspension ended in January and first against the club he left in the wake of the scandal.
"My decision to come to Saracens was because as an individual I needed to make a change," said Stevens, who heads to Miami on Monday for a team training camp organised by the club.
"I chose Saracens because of the culture of the club and I knew a lot of the players here.
"It was a logical decision for me and they've been really supportive of my situation coming back into the game.
"I'm more nervous before playing now than before because I've always got something to prove now.
"I came into Saracens with everything sorted out. Week on week it's something I keep an eye on and I'm in a very stable environment.
"The focus at Saracens is on the individuals and their families.
"It's not just about what happens on the park and that has made it easy to stay focused and be healthy.
"I feel like a 20-year-old who's just started the game."
Saracens tightened their grip on second place with a seventh successive league victory that keeps them on course for home advantage in the play-offs.
Stevens' ambition is to win back his England place in time for the World Cup and he knows playing in a Premiership final can only improve his chances of figuring in Martin Johnson's plans.
"There's still quite a way for me to go to break into what is quite a good, developing England team," he said.
"But helping Saracens into the Premiership final would be a great platform for me to do that.
"If you play in a Premiership final then you're pushing for a place with England.
"Johnno's said he's watching me and my progress and that's all I can ask for."
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is convinced Stevens will be included in England's squad for New Zealand this autumn.
"To have been out for that length of time and reach the level he has so soon is a big achievement," said McCall.
"He's still not quite there, Matt knows that, but the more he plays the better he'll get and he's had a couple of starts in a row now.
"I think the World Cup is a realistic ambition for him. His adaptability and flexibility to play both sides is a big feather in his cap.
"He's an outstanding player with a big contribution around the pitch. I'd be very surprised if he's not there."
Five penalties from Alex Goode and a first-half try from David Strettle banged a nail into the coffin of Bath's play-off hopes.
Even with games in hand on most of their rivals it is highly unlikely they will force their way into the top four, though head coach Steve Meehan refuses to throw in the towel.
"We've got 25 points left to play for and our objective must be to win as many as we can," he said.
"That's all we can do and we'll see what happens in other fixtures."
On Stevens, Meehan added: "I was surprised he was man-of-the-match.
"He's still a little bit raw and has got some work to do. He's just returning into the game. We'll see what happens over time."
Meanwhile, Saracens expect to make an announcement soon over the identity of their home ground for the start of next season.
Chief executive Edward Griffiths is confident their new ground at Copthall will be ready in January with Vicarage Road, their current base, among the options to fill the interim period.
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|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com