Aug 22, 2017
Mark McCall encouraged by Saracens’ impressive second row depth
With British and Irish Lions starters Maro Itoje and George Kruis making headlines, you would be forgiven for thinking Saracens were all set at second row heading into this season.
Not so for director of rugby Mark McCall.
International windows will leave Saracens relying on the depth of the squad; and following Alistair Hargreaves’ retirement last October, Jim Hamilton’s retirement in May, and a string of niggling injuries that plagued last season, Sarries were forced to re-evaluate the position.
That they did; bringing 6’8” Australian international Will Skelton back to Allianz Park permanently, as well as bringing Welsh stalwart Dominic Day back to the Premiership from Melbourne Rebels.
On the changes, McCall said: “We just feel that we are healthier in the second row than we were this time last year. We are better catered for in that area.
“[Will Skelton] made a big impression when he was with us last time. He was here for a couple of months and it is great to have him back now for a couple of years. We can get more out of his unrealised potential.”
He also noted the hard work Day has put in to integrate with Saracens, rising through the ranks quickly since arriving.
The second row now boasts 56 international caps between them, with seasoned players backing up some of the brightest young stars in the game.
McCall went on to discuss the importance of depth and the impact international windows have on the season, though praised the international and Lions players on the team.
He said: “The fortune we always have is they’re just so hungry.
“They all want to play but we’ve got to protect them from themselves sometimes.”
Saracens’ depth across the board helps in this regard, allowing the team to compete at every level, all season long, without anyone getting burned out.
Particularly crucial this year, as the team once again travels to the US early in the season, as well as being drawn in a tough Champions Cup group.