Apr 03, 2015
McCall looks ahead to Racing clash
Saracens are back in European cup action on Easter Sunday with a quarter-final Champions Cup clash against Racing Metro.
The team heads to Paris on Saturday with a good record against Racing having twice beaten them in the pool stages of the competition two seasons ago, but Director of Rugby Mark McCall is well aware that with the likes of Maxine Machenaud and Jonny Sexton at half back and forward pack including Francois van der Merwe and captain Dimitri Szarzewski, it’s going to be a fiercely contested match.
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, McCall explained that there were no new injury worries ahead of the match with the exception of Alistair Hargreaves who is going through the return to play protocols following a head injury against Quins at Wembley.
“He is going through the protocols but we don’t name the team until Friday so we will see,” explained McCall. “We also have Jim Hamilton back with the squad after a week off and we’re very hopeful that Schalk Brits may be part of the squad although it’s less so for Brad Barritt.”
And McCall added that those injuries had meant the club had to come through a series of setbacks.
He said: “This season feels completely different because we sailed through last year without any real setbacks and there wasn’t really too much to deal with until the end.
“This year has been entirely different. We’ve had a pile of injuries to some very important players. Brits barely played, Owen Farrell hasn’t played much, neither has Barritt and a number of others including Kieran Longbottom who is almost back, and then we also had a disappointing November in terms of results.
“So we’ve had things to bounce back from and we have fundamentally done that but along the way there have been enough stand out performances to remind us how good we can be at times. The way we played against Munster, Bath, Wasps and Quins at the weekend, means there’s enough for us to hang our hats on.
“But we’re aware how good Racing Metro are and they can go a little bit under the radar, but we saw the way they played against Northampton Saints in their last pool game at Franklin's Gardens and it was pretty impressive. Their pack is huge, they’ve got an outstanding set of halfbacks and Sexton is the standout fly half in world rugby at the moment and coming into a bit of form.
“They are a well balanced team. They will be favourites as they are playing at home, but we feel we’re going pretty well at the moment. We know that on our day we are more than capable of winning a game like this.”