Oct 13, 2015
Collective effort key for McCall ahead of title defence
Director of Rugby Mark McCall believes that squad continuity will be key to a successful title defence in this seasons Aviva Premiership.
Saracens begin their campaign on Saturday with a clash against Sale Sharks at Allianz Park and the two-time Premiership winning coach believes his squads settled nature will be too his side’s advantage in the upcoming Premiership season.
Since joining Saracens, McCall has chosen to focus on retaining a strong core to his squad. With Sarries being in Premiership or European action for 25 consecutive weekends starting on Saturday, the depth of their squad will also be tested but McCall is adamant they have the perfect blend of youth and experience to thrive.
“I think, broadly speaking, the age profile of our squad is a good age profile,” he said.“We’ve got some good young players who have established themselves around the team who are 23 or 24 years old.
Then we’ve got some younger ones coming behind that. At the top end we’ve got some really experienced players who set a magnificent example to the youngsters, so I think we have a good balance.
“This season is unique because of the delayed start. We’re about to go into a period of a minimum of 25 consecutive weeks with a Premiership or Champions Cup game, so we’ll need everybody.
“It’s going to be a real squad effort and we believe we’ve got the squad to do that.
“When we began this part of the club’s history six and a half years ago, we were determined to keep a group of people together for a period of time – staff and players alike.
When you look at the clubs who have been successful, whatever the competition, it was always clubs who kept a core of people together – be it Munster and Leinster a few years ago or Wasps or Leicester over here.
“We’ve managed to establish that and we don’t want to have a lot of chopping and changing.”
Saracens begin their Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign by hosting Sale Sharks on Saturday and will be further boosted over the next few weeks by a number of players returning from World Cup duty.
One of those is new boy Vunisa, who has been away with Italy, and McCall is particularly excited to bring the No.8 on board.
“We think that there is real growth in Samuela,” he added. “We’ve seen some glimpses in his performances for Italy of how good he can be and we think our environment can bring the best out of him.
“He’s going to take some time to settle in – we haven’t seen much of him this summer because of his involvement with Italy at the World Cup.
“But once he gets in, he’s going to be hopefully another very important back-rower for us.”