NEXT UP | New surroundings as Sarries head to Brentford
Saracens will continue to expose their best up-and-coming talent to professional rugby when they face London Irish in the Premiership Rugby Cup on Friday night.
The club’s target in the competition is to give younger players an opportunity to push through into the senior side and they will get a chance to stake a claim for a place in the matchday 23 when the Gallagher Premiership resumes with a home fixture against Sale Sharks at the end of the month.
This competition provides supporters with an opportunity to see the stars of the future with the likes of Maro Itoje, Nick Tompkins and Nick Isiekwe having made their professional debuts in the Premiership Cup. Despite there being a focus on development in these games, any fixture against London Irish is a mouth-watering prospect for the club.
Only a fortnight ago, both teams played out a classic encounter which saw Irish overturn a 34-8 deficit with 20 minutes to go to secure a 34-34 draw with a last-minute try scored by Kyle Rowe.
A touchline conversion from Rory Jennings ensured the game ended level.
Since getting relegated in 2018, Irish have made massive strides to make themselves competitive at the top table. A move away from the Madejski Stadium in Reading to the Brentford Community Stadium has been a positive step forward while their recruitment has been mightily impressive.
The appointment of former Munster Heineken Cup-winning coach and Ireland Grand Slam winner Declan Kidney as director of rugby has proven to be a masterstroke, as has the signing of Australian Les Kiss from Ulster as head coach.
Their recruitment over the past couple of seasons has also been noteworthy with players such as Wallabies second row Adam Coleman, world-class Argentina hooker Augustin Creevy, Tongan international Steve Mafi and Australians Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona all coming on board.
They also have some of the best young talent in the English game in the shape of wing Ollie Hassell-Collins and back-rower Izaiha Moore-Aiono among others.
The investment in the Exiles’ squad along with a strong culture has seen the side rapidly improve. Saracens are likely to face a very different London Irish team to last time with Kidney’s side also using the Premiership Cup to develop players for the future.