Munster more potent with Larkham and Rowntree, says Mark McCall

Munster more potent with Larkham and Rowntree, says Mark McCall
Mark McCall

Mark McCall believes the addition of Stephen Larkham and Graham Rowntree to the Munster coaching team has made them more formidable opponents than when they defeated them in the semi-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup last April.

His side are currently trying to work out defending their European and Premiership in the wake of their massive points deduction and hefty fine for breaching their domestic salary cap.

But the former Irish centre is hopeful they gave the resilience to deal with the crisis and he knows how much is hanging on their back-to-back clashes with Johann van Graan’s men.

McCall’s side enjoyed a double scores 32-16 win over Munster in the semi-finals at the Ricoh Arena earlier this year but the Saracens Director of Rugby is expecting a much tighter affair when they clash in Thomond Park on Saturday.

Munster are one of those clubs that always get to the semi-final or final, always get out of their pool, so we know we are playing against one of the European powerhouses.

“There have been a few changes to their coaching staff this year.

“Stephen Larkham will obviously make a significant difference.

“Graham Rowntree is there as well so they have brought in some experienced coaches into the organisation.

“We had a tough semi-final against Munster last year and we know it’s going to be tougher this time round.”

Saracens began their battle against relegation following their 35-match points deduction and fine of over £5m with a 25-12 win away to Bath at the weekend.

McCall said he believes they have the squad to compete in the Premiership and also in Europe, where they recovered from their opening round loss away to Racing 92 to score a bonus point 44-3 victory against Ospreys.

“We have a lengthy injury list and we need to manage the returning international players, but we have asked a lot of this group and they are resilient.

“We need to think how we use our international players best but we are not giving up on this competition at all.

“Of course, we are all bothered about it and we have some thinking to do.

But I expect us to put out strong teams in this competition all the time. This team has been together for a long time.

Relationships in the group are strong, relationships among the players and the staff are strong and we all care about it.

“Of course we are all bothered by it,” he added.

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