Aug 29, 2017
Saracens Brace for Challenging start to the season
Packing their bags, Saracens are preparing for a tough road trip to start the Premiership schedule, with multiple key players still yet to return to full action.
The campaign kicks off on Saturday, as Saracens host the Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stadium, part of the London Double Header.
They then face two tough weeks on the road, travelling to Bath’s Rec Ground, before jetting off to Philadelphia to take on the Newcastle Falcons in Premiership Rugby’s second ever game in the US.
They will be without one of the team’s key leaders, Billy Vunipola, to start the season, as he recovers from a shoulder injury that forced him to withdraw from the British and Irish Lions squad. Mark McCall said that the England back rower is in good shape and itching to return, and they will be looking to bring him back as soon as possible.
Sarries’ other six Lions may also be slow to start. They will likely be filtered back in slowly following their bruising tour of New Zealand this Summer.
However, it is no time to panic for the Men in Black, as this is what Mark McCall’s staff have been preparing for all year. They have enlisted more than capable reinforcements, including the return of Australian Will Skelton, and the arrivals of experienced players Dominic Day, Christopher Tolofua, Calum Clark, Kieran Longbottom, and Liam Williams.
They also have an impressive crop of young players who have shined in the preseason. These Academy graduates will look to be ready to step up when needed.
Saturday’s opening fixture focuses on an old rivalry. Saracens beat Northampton twice last season and will be looking to continue their sweep of the Saints. However, last year’s away fixture had only two points in it and the opener will provide an early challenge for Mark McCall’s men.
Next up is Bath, who handed Sarries one of their five Premiership defeats last year. The Rec can be a tough place to play on the road, and Saracens will have to be at their best in week two.
Wrapping up the road trip is a visit to Talen Energy Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Union MLS side. Saracens take on Newcastle, who they beat in both games last year, but the Falcons will be hoping to put on a show in front of new fans across the pond.
In week four they finally return to Allianz Park, in a well-earned home debut against the Sale Sharks.
It is a tough schedule, and it has been a busier summer than usual for many Saracens, though if anyone is up to the challenge it is the back-to-back European Champions.