Jan 19, 2017
Hungry Toulon a 'massive challenge' McCall
Mark McCall has challenged his Saracens side to match Toulon’s hunger this Saturday when they face the three-time champions at Allianz Park.
It’s a do-or-die fixture for the Cote D’Azur outfit who need at least two points out of the game to book their place in the final eight of the competition whilst Saracens know that just one point will see them top the Pool.
Saracens head into the game safe in the knowledge that they have already secured qualification for the last-eight for a sixth successive season, whilst in contrast, Toulon could miss out on the quarter-finals stages for the first time in five years. A win on Saturday will guarantee a home quarter-final for McCall’s side and the Sarries director of rugby is hoping that will spur his team on in Saturday’s heavyweight clash.
“It’s a massive match,” said McCall. “It’s good that we’ve qualified but we want to secure a home quarter-final if possible."
On Toulon, he added: “They have got all their squad back together now. Matt Giteau came back last weekend and looked good for the 30 minutes he played. (Josua) Tuisova was devastating for the 20 minutes he was on the pitch, Juan Smith was back for them, so they’ll come to us thinking they’ll have a big chance because we’re missing a few bodies. I know that every player they have is unbelievably competitive and when they’ve been asked to step-up down the years, when they really need it, they’re very tough to play against. When they’re motivated they really are a dangerous animal.”
McCall though backed his side to rise to the challenge: “It’s a huge game at home and a win gets us what we want. We’ve got to be very smart with how we play the game.”
Toulon travel to north London with former Bath Head Coach Mike Ford and former Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill as part of their new-look coaching team. Speaking ahead of the game, McCall believes the influence of two of his former Premiership advisories has galvanised the French giants in recent weeks.
“You can see they’re a lot more organised than they were, right across the team,” said McCall on Ford and Cockerill’s impact. “In the set-piece, in the way they play and the detail is lot better than it was a couple of months ago, and it’s no surprise as they’re good coaches. They know us quite well, we played against Leicester three weeks ago, and Cockers had them well prepared. That’s only part of it for us though as we have to go out there and deliver – we need to show them that we’re as motivated for the game as they are.”
Saracens v Toulon - Pool 3 permutations
- There is only one way for Toulon to have a chance of usurping Saracens this weekend - the French outfit must win with a try-bonus point and ensure that Saracens get nothing out of the game.
- If they do that it opens the door, but after losing 31-23 in the south of France in round one - and outscored by three tries to two in the process - Toulon have some ground to cover on the head-to-head.
- Saracens will still progress regardless of any of the weekend's results, while Toulon need two points at least - a draw or two bonus points in a loss - to guarantee one of the runners-up places