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Saracens’ World Cup contingent return as survival bid starts at Bath

The trip to the Recreation Ground is their first league match since accepting a 35-point deduction and £5.36million fine for breaching salary cap.

Saracens will be back to full strength against Bath (Richard Sellers/PA)
Saracens will be back to full strength against Bath (Richard Sellers/PA)

By Duncan Bech, PA

Saracens are poised to name their strongest available team including their complete England contingent when their Gallagher Premiership survival bid begins in earnest against Bath.

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Friday’s trip to the Recreation Ground is their first league match since accepting a 35-point deduction and £5.36million fine for breaching salary cap regulations, leaving them 26 points adrift of safety.

Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, George Kruis, Elliot Daly and Jack Singleton have already played since returning from the World Cup and after missing Saturday’s Champions Cup rout of the Ospreys, Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola are ready to join them.

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Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell will return for Saracens after their World Cup exploits (Richard Sellers/PA)

When asked if the returning trio will start against Bath, director of rugby Mark McCall said: “I think so, yes.

“They’re all good to go. Apart from our long-term injuries – so Liam Williams, Alex Goode, Michael Rhodes, Juan Figallo and Max Malins – everybody else is available for selection this weekend.

“The England players have been great since coming back in. They’re in great spirits, surprising to some maybe. There’s a real sense of togetherness and unity there.

“We talked a lot last week about the situation we were in and we decided as a group we’d draw a line under the salary cap issue and get on with the task in hand. It’s what we’re paid to do and what we’re going to do.”

McCall added: “We are in the situation that we are in and no one is going to bury their heads in the sand and cry themselves to sleep at night.

“We have just got to get on with it now. We have got a good squad here and we need to use them all and understand what gets the best out of them, and do our best.

“We’ve got really experienced players and our big challenge is to remind ourselves of when we go on a good run and when we’re cooking what that looks like.

“Being anxious and desperate about winning and looking at tables is not it. We’ve got to enjoy our weeks together, prepare well and play as well as we can.

“What’s happened isn’t a situation that we would want to be in, if we are absolutely honest, but we are in it.

“And there is a route out of it by us operating in a certain way and trying to get some wins, enjoying our rugby and seeing where we are in the second weekend in June when the Premiership stops.”

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Saracens have won five Premiership finals since 2010 (Paul Harding/PA)

Since 2010 Saracens have been in seven Premiership finals, winning five of them, but they are now fighting at the opposite end of the table.

“One of the players did say to me ‘if I had to go on all fronts (Europe, Premiership and Six Nations) post the World Cup, it would have been tough,” McCall said.

“But this has added something extra because we have got a challenge that we haven’t faced before.”

PA

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