Coach Paul Gustard defends Saracens' philosophy and says the club are now the "mainstay" of the England team

Goode and Barritt have impressed for England (Picture: Action Images)

Goode and Barritt have impressed for England (Picture: Action Images)

First published in Sport by

The international emergence of Saracens' young stars means the club is now the "mainstay" of the England set-up, according to defence coach Paul Gustard.

Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Alex Goode, Chris Ashton and Mako Vunipola have all been retained in England's matchday squad for the game against New Zealand on Saturday, while Mouritz Botha has also trained with the national side but missed out on the final 23.

Sarries have come under criticism this season for playing an industrial brand of rugby that stunts the development of their young English players.

But only Leicester currently have the same number of representatives as the Men in Black in the England squad and Gustard believes the club's record speaks for itself.

"People are entitled to their opinion but I think our international record over the past two or three seasons speaks volumes about the club," Gustard said.

"The amount of internationals that have graduated from Saracens over recent seasons, overtaking traditional heavy weights like Leicester and Wasps and Bath, we've become the mainstay of the England set up now.

"You've got ourselves, Harlequins and Northampton who are probably providing as many, if not more, England players than any other club."

Despite sitting second in the Aviva Premiership, Saracens have the scored the fewest tries in the league - one less even than bottom-placed Sale.

They have also scored less points than any team in the top nine.

But Gustard insists Saracens will continue to play to their strengths, which include an emphasis on attack.

He continued: "If you start chopping and changing, you become a jack of all trades and you end up mid-table.

"Every club has an idientity of what they subscribe to, obviously we do have foundations of a strong defence and a strong set-piece but we also pride ourselves on our attack.

"In the last couple of seasons we have attacked and we've created a lot of opportunities but unfortunately we haven’t always been able to convert them."

The former Leicester flanker admits Saracens need to be more clinical when opportunities present themselves but believes it is often a reflection of the team's attacking pressure when opponents give away penalties against them.

Gustard said: "The rumour mongers will come and say we're not at attacking side but while we may not be a good finishing side on occasions, we do create a lot of opportunities otherwise teams wouldn’t give away penalties against us.

"Teams can't cope with the pressure we put on them so they commit a foul or they break the law and therefore we take the points but actually the opportunity cost was we would have scored seven points or five points not the three.”

Farrell is expected to start at fly-half for England against the Kiwis in place of the injured Toby Flood while Goode and Barritt should keep their spots at full-back and centre.

Kick off at Twickenham on Saturday is at 2.30pm.

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