Every game a big game for Saracens and McCall
Director of Rugby Mark McCall accepted that his side were not “emotionally right” in their Christmas Eve defeat to London Irish.
The 29-20 loss at the Gtech Community Stadium marked the first time this season that Saracens had suffered defeat in the Gallagher Premiership. McCall though, was quick to pay tribute to London Irish and felt that their current standing in the league was somewhat misleading.
“We’ve had a chance to play every team now and you look at the last three of four performances from Irish, you wonder why they are in the position they are in because they are incredibly well organised with good players. Their league position is false in my opinion. It’s an incredibly tight league.”
After a few days off over Christmas to spend time with friends and family, the squad has now returned to training ahead of a huge home encounter with Exeter Chiefs to round off 2022. Whilst many pundits and fans draw into the rivalry between Saracens and the Devonians, McCall feels that every match in the league is critical, as he explained how his side have reflected on their performance in Brentford.
“We always try to keep how we review and look forward the same. It is performance based and there have been times this year where we have won games but not played great, which we’ve tried to be honest about. Playing Exeter is like all the other games. Every match is big now and everyone is in a rush to get those points to get into the top four.”
The challenge for Saracens will be to respond to that first defeat in the best way possible at home. McCall admitted that in sport, “you don’t want [defeat] to be inevitable,” as he challenged his side to put their disappointment against London Irish behind them.
“Emotionally, we weren’t as good as we have been in other games this season. But when you get the feeling of losing, it sharpens you up differently to winning a game that you didn’t deserve to. The proof is in the pudding, so we will find out over the next month or so what that game meant. We’ve talked about that this week as well.”
McCall was hopeful that he will be able to call upon the fit-again Maro Itoje and Jamie George against Exeter. However, his side have also been dealt a blow with the news that Theo McFarland is out for the rest of the season, after suffering an ACL injury.
McCall conveyed his disappointment for McFarland but praised his medical team for the work that they continue to do.
“Everyone knows, not how difficult it is to come back from an ACL, but how painstaking the process is. It’s a shame because he’s made a lot of progress quickly, but we’ve got a great medical team here. For now, we just feel sad for him.”