Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

McCall hails English talent

Mark McCall

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall urged national coach Stuart Lancaster to take note of the English contingent who masterminded Tuesday's 19-11 victory over Harlequins at Twickenham.

Owen Farrell kicked 14 points and David Strettle scored against his old club as Saracens raced into a 19-3 lead in front of a record-breaking 82,000 crowd. Harlequins mounted a comeback with a try from Joe Marler but Saracens defended valiantly to end their unbeaten start to the Aviva Premiership season.

Brad Barritt was the official man of the match but the award could have gone to flanker Andy Saull, who took his chance in the injury-enforced absence of Jacques Burger. "I thought Andy Saull was absolutely magnificent and from an England perspective I thought a lot of our young, English players really made a good impression," McCall said.

Lancaster will name his 32-man RBS 6 Nations squad on January 11 and McCall added: "Brad Barritt, who is just getting better and better, Owen Farrell again and Alex Goode who has really come into form in the last month or so.

"Ben Spencer (the scrum-half) really helped to close the game out and (lock) Mouritz Botha did well when he came on too. Hopefully they (the England coaches) will take notice and I'm sure some of the Quins players have put themselves forward as well.

"Charlie Hodgson can't be forgotten either - some of his long passes were outstanding and I don't think anyone else in England can pass the ball like him."

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea joined McCall in praising Farrell, who did not miss a kick and shows all the poise of a Test player in waiting.

Six years ago, O'Shea was in charge of identifying the next generation of England stars and Farrell has been on his radar since he was just 14.

"I am sure he will be a cornerstone for England for a long time," O'Shea said.

"I saw him at Loughborough in a training camp when he was 14 and it was an under-18 camp and he ran the show. He's an outstanding player."

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