Mar 10, 2017
Young Guns have another chance to shine - Don Barrell
Don Barrell has heaped praise on Saracens younger stars for their performances in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on the eve of the club’s semi-final against Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park (18h00 kick-off).
Cup holders Saracens have continued to blood younger players in the competition, with nine academy players having made their debuts in this season’s competition, and as Saracens prepare to face Leicester Tigers Anglo-Welsh coach and Academy Manager Barrell has paid tribute to the club’s younger players.
“I never like to single out anyone, as they’ve all done well this season,” said Barrell. “It’s been great watch some promising players really step up. Matt Gallagher has had a great year so far and has had some exposure early, which I think has added some composure and maturity to his game. Max Malins has played very well for the England U20s recently and has been involved in the last few weeks. Tom Whiteley has been a bit of an unsung hero, in the way he’s moved from scrum-half to fly-half really when had the need because of injuries, and he’s really led the team – he’s a guy who has a huge amount of fight and determination and he really is a role model for other younger players.
“This competition gives us the chance to give some of younger players some valuable experience in an arena you can’t replicate anywhere else – the pressure of playing of Leicester in a semi-final can only be replicated by doing exactly that. Again, for some of these younger lads to step into a semi-final is a massive learning opportunity for them. For coaches and players, it’s a big thing.
“A semi-final in the Anglo-Welsh Cup means a lot for the lads involved on the pitch, and for everyone watching and supporting. It gives us that chance to blood those young guys and let them have the chance to put their hand up for selection and I think we’ve seen that a lot of these guys have pushed on.
“They’re (younger players) so important to the club,” said Barrell. “We’re in a place here at Saracens where our younger players are seen to be vital to us sustaining our recent success - they grab hold of the culture, discuss what it means, make it their own and try and live it every day. For us the next group are always the most exciting group, as they are always hungry to be better than the last group that went before them and the that’s the challenge.
“They’re fortunate that they have the whole club behind them. We have six senior coaches here who are as invested in those young lads than as any academy coach – who care as much about what they are doing on the field as they are about what they are doing off it, we’re very fortunate.”