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Saracens fan Ben Ireland is looking forward to seeing Saracens give some younger players game time
It has been a difficult couple of weeks for Saracens – but a home game against Newcastle followed by two LV Cup clashes provide a good opportunity to get back on track, and to try out some fresher faces.
The power-based momentum game of the early season has ground to a halt. You could cite any number of reasons, such as the absence of the Vunipola brothers, the time away from the fast pitch of Allianz Park, or the step-up in quality of the opposition.
For me, there’s a strong case to be made that Sarries are over-working what is largely an ageing pack. Granted, you’d be hard pushed to find harder consecutive opponents than Toulouse and Northampton, but I thought that Brits, Stevens, Borthwick and Joubert all struggled last week. Even the indefatigable Brown and Burger were showing signs of fatigue.
On the flip side, Jamie George and George Kruis have both been revelations this season with their dynamism and physicality standing out among their elder peers. Jackson Wray has looked like a man possessed every time he has set foot on the pitch; Richard Barrington was the top tackler against Saints, and just about held his own at the scrum time.
Then we have a couple of older faces like James Johnston and Mouritz Botha who, for whatever reason, haven’t seen much game time. These are two hulking specimens who would lock down the tighthead side of the scrum (which has suffered so badly recently), and provide bludgeoning go-forward in the maul and as ball carriers.
There’s not much point debating now whether these sorts of players should have been playing in the last fortnight. What’s important is turning around our fortunes. Personally I’d love to see a revamped forward pack, uncaging two weeks’ worth of frustrations on their Falcons counterparts.
Similarly, there a few faces in the backs who should hopefully see a bit more first-team action in the coming weeks. Ben Spencer, one of England’s brightest young prospects, has had to settle for playing scrum-half with the A team. Ben Ransom will relish a more sustained stint in the 15 shirt, and championship star Tim Streather will come into the team almost by default with Barritt, Tomkins, Bosch and Wyles all missing.
Hopefully these three, behind a rejuvenated forward pack, will help to inject some new momentum into the Saracens season. This will give young players more valuable experience, and the older players get some valuable recovery time.
Hopefully these undercurrents will add interest at what is often seen as quite a trivial period in a club’s season, as England take centre-stage…
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