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Bangor's McCall has more than proved his class on big stage


Mark McCall

Mark McCall

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Mark McCall

When you think of the sheer numbers of southern hemisphere coaches that we have in this part of the world, to have an Ulster-born tactician become so successful is both brilliant and remarkable.

Mark McCall, who won a third European Cup as a head coach on Saturday, was in the hotseat at Ulster when I first came into the Academy and, while I wasn't ready to play in the first team at that stage, he was a great source of advice to a young player, with me and I'm sure the likes of Rory Best and Darren Cave too.

What was striking, I suppose, for someone just out of schoolboy rugby and who knew nothing different was the sheer volume of unrest from senior players coming into what would have been a messy period between the side and the coach.

The Bangor man has proven his worth and then some since then and is probably seen as something of the poster boy for patience when it comes to young coaches.

In Newcastle last weekend, his Saracens outfit were a sight to behold. Not unlike England in the first round of the Six Nations, the sheer power of Maro Itoje and the Vunipolas, even with Mako going off injured, is hard to match.

We talk about Leinster's depth but Saracens spring powerful player after powerful player from the bench and are at their best in those 'Championship minutes' either side of half-time. They're worthy European champions.

Belfast Telegraph