Nov 29, 2017
McCall Happy With Squad Freshness Ahead of Quins Test
Saracens return to action on Sunday afternoon with a trip to the Stoop to face Harlequins and Mark McCall has provided an update on the squad ahead of the game.
With the exception of the addition of Schalk Brits, the injury picture looks much the same for McCall from last week and with the return of the club’s international representatives, the Director of Rugby will have the luxury of several returning players to pick from.
When asked about the club’s current injury situation McCall was positive, saying: “Pretty good I think, the people who’ve been out are still out: Billy Vunipola, Michael Rhodes, Duncan Taylor, Liam Williams are out at the moment as well as Schalk Brits who was injured at the weekend.
“Liam’s got a bit of a hernia/groin issue which doesn’t require surgery at the moment but we’re going to give him two weeks’ stand down and go from there.”
McCall also spoke of his gratitude to the England setup for keeping his players fresh after a busy schedule following the summer’s Lions tour of New Zealand.
He said: “This time last year then England players had come back from four international games with most of them playing most of the games.
“This time it’s different, Owen Farrell has played once in the last five weeks and is well rested, Maro Itoje has played twice in the last five weeks.
“Mako Vunipola got a rest last weekend and had a conditioning week, Jamie George played in all three games but his game-time wasn’t too high and obviously Alex Lozowski and Nick Isiekwe only had a little bit of game-time.
“In general we’re as good as we can be following the internationals with Sean Maitland back from Scotland duty as well.”
Saracens sit second in the Premiership table after the first nine rounds and McCall has been complimentary of his side’s recent performances during the international window.
He explained: “We’ve been a good enough side the last couple of weeks and have actually played okay against two good sides, Gloucester away and Exeter at home which were both close games; it is what it is and our focus is on Quins this weekend.”
One player returning to the club is Alex Lozowski who scored his first international try in England’s win over Samoa on Saturday afternoon and McCall praised the 23-year-old’s versatility as well as backing Max Malins, who deputised against Exeter in his absence, saying:
“Alex played at 12 for England at the weekend and is a player who can play in a number of positions, not just at 10 for us, he can play 12, 13 and maybe 15 as well so he’s got some positions he can play and he’ll play plenty of rugby for us.”
He added: “A good thing about him being away is that it exposed somebody else from our organisation, which is Max Malins and it was a great experience for him on Sunday.
“He did well, it’s a hell of a challenge to go up against the Premiership champions in your first league start.”