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Saracens boss Mark McCall believes his squad is better than the one that lost in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals
Director of rugby Mark McCall believes his Saracens squad is better than the one that crashed out in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup last year.
McCall’s team face Racing Metro tomorrow in their second pool game after the Men in Black recorded a convincing 45-0 win over Edinburgh last weekend.
It was a victory that may have helped distance the memories of quarter-final defeat to Clermont Auvergne last year but McCall believes his squad are now stronger, and wiser, than they were on that occasion.
"I think we probably have a better squad than we did last year," McCall said.
"We’ve added players in different positions but also the players we had last year have grown since that experience in the quarter-finals.
"Many of them have played international rugby, Six Nations rugby, and those players will be more confident than they were before and they have played at a higher level."
After the defeat to Clermont, McCall referenced the fact the French side were able to field a team of high-quality, due in part to the more generous wage cap in France.
But the Sarries boss insists his players are not using that as a motivation against Racing Metro.
He said: "We were disappointed with how we played against Clermont last year and the players are hungry, but we try not to rely on that kind of motivation.
"We have a motivated group, they like to challenge themselves, they like to get stuck in every week and give it their best whatever the match is.
"That’s what this group is all about and why we’ve been so consistent over the last three and a half years."
Victory in Brussels would certainly put Saracens in a commanding position in the pool but there are still two matches against Munster to come, a point not lost on McCall.
He continued: "There are only six games in the pool, it’s not like Super 15 or the Premiership - there’s not much margin for error.
"Of course you can afford to lose one game but winning the first two puts you in a strong position and puts you in charge of your destiny.
"We want to do well this weekend but then we have the small matter of Munster home and away and they’ve been pretty good in Europe over the last 15 years so we have to take things step by step and see where we end up."
McCall paid tribute to his versatile winger, Chris Wyles, who will be starting for Saracens against Metro and will be making his 100th appearance for the club.
McCall said: "He’s been huge for this club especially since I’ve been here. He’s played a lot of games and we’ve asked him to play in a few different positions and he’s come through really well.
"Chris is a great player and someone who gives everything in every game - he gets stuck in, works incredibly hard and he’s highly skilled - he’s an extremely valuable player for Saracens."