May 25, 2016
Final Preview: McCall praises a retiring 'great' and provides Farrell fitness update
Mark McCall admits the loss of ‘the best passer of a rugby ball’ he has ever seen in Charlie Hodgson will be hard to take, as the Saracens’ star prepares to make his final Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance in Saturday’s final.
European Champions Cup winners Saracens face Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham and Hodgson, who is Aviva Premiership Rugby’s all-time leading points-scorer with 2,623, is readying himself to wave goodbye in what will be his 253rd league appearance.
Hodgson joined Saracens from Sale Sharks in 2011 and the veteran fly-half could cap a remarkable career by becoming an Aviva Premiership Rugby champion for a fourth time – 10 years after his first title with the Manchester outfit in 2006.
The 38-time England international will hang up his boots after Saturday’s showpiece to become Saracens’ new head of recruitment and talent identification.
And Guinness Director of Rugby of the Season McCall thinks a European and domestic double would be an apt finale to Hodgson’s stunning career at the pinnacle of English rugby.
"If he does end up starting it will be just reward for an incredible Aviva Premiership career," McCall said of the 35-year-old.
"I would have thought he is probably one of the greats of Aviva Premiership Rugby down the years.
"The word class sums him up. He was class out on the training field today and he is one of the best passers of the ball I have ever seen.
"He has had a great career and it is probably fitting that he should finish his career with a final appearance, and hopefully a win."
Hodgson has kicked 154 points in 13 starts this season and could pull on the number 10 jersey yet again if Owen Farrell does not shake off a rib injury sustained in last weekend’s 44-17 semi-final win over Leicester Tigers.
McCall was hopeful that Grand Slam winner Farrell – who was named in Eddie Jones’ England squad for their three-Test tour of Australia – would be available for Saturday, but was more than confident that Hodgson could step into the breach if required.
"He needs to be able to train on Thursday to play on Saturday, but we fully expect him to be able to train then," said McCall.
"He has been playing phenomenally well, maybe as well as anybody around at the moment, but I am not going to rush that decision."
'Duncan Taylor took a bang to the head against Leicester and is doing his return to play protocols, but everything has gone according to plan so far and we expect him to train on Thursday as well.'
If you want to be at the world’s biggest club rugby final, this year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on Saturday 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final