McCall: Sarries seeking place in the elite

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall is hoping his side can push on from the quarter-finals and become one of Europe’s elite clubs.

The former Ulster centre hopes his side will not be overawed by the experience of playing Toulouse and has set high targets for his club in the future.

“Competing with the elite of Europe in the knockout stages of tournaments is where we want to be, both now and in the future,” he said.

“If you look at the likes of Toulouse, Leicester, Leinster and Munster, these teams have created a legacy in Europe, and we want to do the same.”

Scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth makes his first start since being injured last October, with England centre Brad Barritt and Wales prop Rhys Gill also returning to a Saracens side captained by Steve Borthwick.

Clermont have put together a highly impressive season, including a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions, but their form has wavered in recent weeks and their winning streak came to an end with an uninspired, error-strewn performance last weekend in Biarritz. The French outfit will be lifted by the news that Morgan Parra makes the starting XV. The French international has recovered from a thigh muscle tear to partner David Skrela in the half-back combination.

Former All Black winger Sitiveni Sivivatu also returns to the side to start out wide.

SARACENS: A Goode; D Strettle, O Farrell, B Barritt, C Wyles; C Hodgson, R Wigglesworth; R Gill, S Brits, M Stevens, S Borthwick (capt), M Botha, J Melck, W Fraser, E Joubert. Replacements: J George, M Vunipola, C Nieto, G Kruis, J Wray, N de Kock, A Powell, J Short.

CLERMONT: L Byrne; S Sivivatu, W Fofana, A Rougerie (capt), J Malzieu; D Skrela, M Parra; L Faure, B Kayser, D Zirakashvili, J Cudmore, N Hines, JBonnaire, A Lapandry, E Vermeulen. Replacements: T Paulo, V Debaty, D Kotze, J Pierre, J Bardy, L Radoslavjevic, B James, J Buttin.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox