Champions Cup: Leinster v Saracens - Saracens player profiles

Gavin Cummiskey assesses the defending champions ahead of their date in Dublin

Maro Itoje is arguably the world’s best secondrow. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty

Maro Itoje is arguably the world’s best secondrow. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty

 

15 Elliot Daly

Age: 27
Height: 6’
Weight: 98kg (15st 6lbs)

Better suited to sweeping and counter attacking from fullback as opposed to coping with Ringrose and Henshaw in a chaotic midfield. Beware: anything from 55 metres is inside his kicking range.

Elliott Daly lines up at fullback for Saracens against Leinster. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty
Elliott Daly lines up at fullback for Saracens against Leinster. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

14 Alex Lewington

Age: 28
Height: 6ft
Weight: 96kg (15st 2lbs)

Big winger moved to Saracens in 2018 after five years with London Irish where he was a standout performer in the Championship, a level he never thought he would revisit in a black jersey.

13 Duncan Taylor

Age: 31
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 92kg (14st 7lbs)

Seriously quick but injury prone centre who completes the redesign of Sarries midfield due to Owen Farrell’s suspension. Man marked Ringrose in Yokohama last year so both men know each other’s weaknesses.

12 Brad Barritt

Age: 34
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 101kg (15st 13lbs)

Saracens’ defensive lynchpin but Robbie Henshaw should be another level up from this South Africa native who has not been capped by England since 2015.

11 Sean Maitland

Age: 32
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 101kg (15st 13lbs)

The Scottish Kiwi is a lethal finisher, a threat in the air, quick and powerful in equal measure. Hugo Keenan is tasked with locking him up tight in all the above departments. Some task.

10 Alex Goode

Age: 32
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 91 kg (14st 4lbs)

The Farrell conundrum has led to Mark McCall risking the fullback at number 10 over England under-20s outhalf Manu Vunipola. A slick footballer, with a lovely kick pass, he must be ruthlessly targeted.

9 Aled Davies

Age: 28
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 86kg (13st 7lbs)

Replaces Ben Spencer, who switched to Bath to flatten the salary cap, this occasional Welsh international will be expected to produce the hour of his life before 37-year-old Richard Wigglesworth arrives.

9 Richard Wigglesworth

Age: 37
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 84kg (13st 3lbs)

A pivotal figure in the Saracens story - Nigel Wray helped him start Wiggy9 Investments - and despite his age a shock victory would revolve around his astute game management.

1 Mako Vunipola

Age: 29
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 122kg (19st 3lbs)

One of the most effective and mobile props to ever play the game, remarkably still only 29, he has been cursed by injury but Saracens need him to recover from back spasms to put Andrew Porter through the ringer.

England and Lions hooker Jamie George. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty
England and Lions hooker Jamie George. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty

2 Jamie George

Age: 29
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 113kg (17st 11lbs)

Tough season ahead for the England and Lions hooker as Sarries relegation to the championship puts his selection for both international sides under real threat. This could be the last shop window for some time.

3 Vincent Koch

Age: 30
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 118kg (18st 8lbs)

World Cup winning Springbok caused Leinster all sorts of problems in last year’s final and he should give Cian Healy a rigorous, back bending examination in the scrums

4 Maro Itoje

Age: 25
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 115kg (18st 2lbs)

The best lock on the planet, or certainly in the conversation alongside Brodie Retallick, Maro must somehow enhance the damage he causes at rucks and in the tackle now his England partner George Kruis has decamped to Japan.

5 Tim Swinson

Age: 33
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 116kg (18st 4lbs)

Ideal veteran for a quick dip into the championship but the Scottish international comes out of retirement to find himself on the biggest club stage of all. Sarries will badly miss Kruis and Will Skelton.

6 Michael Rhodes

Age: 32
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 114kg (17st 13lbs)

The South African is a genuine stalwart of the club since arriving from the Stormers in 2015, and will be used to disrupt the Leinster lineout. Important figure if Sarries are to prevail.

Leinster struggled to contain Billy Vunipola in last year’s Champions Cup final. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty
Leinster struggled to contain Billy Vunipola in last year’s Champions Cup final. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

7 Jackson Wray

Age: 29
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 112kg (17st 9lbs)

Part of the furniture since coming through the Academy in 2008, without ever reaching an international peak, Wray will be tasked with chopping down Jack Conan and Caelan Doris before any yardage can be made.

8 Billy Vunipola

Age: 27
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 130kg (20st 7lbs)

Came up short of being considered the best number eight in the game when faced by Duane Vermeulen in the World Cup final. That said, Leinster could not stop him from five metres in last year’s Champions Cup decider at St James’ Park.

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