May 12, 2017
McCall Praises Squad Continuity Ahead of Champions Cup Final
Mark McCall has complimented Clermont and emphasised the importance of continuity in taking Sarries to their second successive Champions Cup Final after winning the competition last year.
The Saracens Director of Rugby was speaking in the week building up to Saturday's final and also praised former Saracens winger and fans’ favourite David Strettle who now plays for Clermont. Talking about the winger, McCall was full of praise, saying: “Strettle is playing outstandingly well at the moment, he was playing outstandingly well when he left here.
“We didn’t want him to go but he asked to be released a year early to go and have an adventure in France, which we thought he deserved.
“He’s a player we think very highly of and he’s playing really well at the moment. I’ve stayed in touch with him from time to time but I think he’s still in the players’ WhatsApp group.” He added, “They might be throwing him a couple of curve balls (laughs.)”
Talking about his own team, McCall praised the strength of his team a year on from their first Champions Cup win, explaining: “The group is stronger 12-months on from Lyon, our team hasn’t really changed over the last 2/3 seasons.”
“Personnel hasn’t changed that much but I do think that the players are just better than they were, they’re a young group and have improved individually as well as a collective.
“We’ve improved in the sense that there are certain areas of our game that are better than they were back then; I think it’s inevitable that you’re going to bet a little bit better every year if you keep the same group.”
McCall also talked up the strengths of a Clermont team which has participated in three of the last five Champions Cup finals.
He said: “I think there’s something different about Clermont compared to some of the other French clubs.
“They’re a club who have a playing group that has been together for a long time; they’re not one of those French clubs that just buys in foreign talent, they’ve got a real core to what they do and you can feel that spirit and togetherness about them.
“In terms of their rugby, they’ve got everything, they’ve got a formidable pack of forwards, their scrum’s good and their line-out is good.
“They’ve got two very good half-backs who manage and control games of rugby very well if they’re allowed to; they’ve got some firepower in the backs as well so a really good team all-round.”