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Mark McCall launches centre search after serious Olly Hartley setback

By Neil Fissler
Saracens' Olly Hartley (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Gallagher Premiership Champions Saracens have started a search to replace Olly Hartley after the England hopeful seriously damaged his knee ligaments in the win over Gloucester last weekend.


The 22-year-old is set to miss the rest of 2024 after it was revealed he suffered ACL damage in the 46-24 victory in London, which has prompted director of rugby Mark McCall to open a search for another centre.

Hartley’s unavailability is a blow for Saracens who are chasing down Northampton Saints and Bath at the top of the Premiership table as they look to retain the crown they won with a 35-25 win over Sale Sharks at Twickenham last May.

Video Spacer

Nemani Nadolo on his peak and once being considered “too big”

Former Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo chats to Liam Heagney about when he reached his peak and how he was actually at one stage considered too big to play rugby.

Video Spacer

Nemani Nadolo on his peak and once being considered “too big”

Former Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo chats to Liam Heagney about when he reached his peak and how he was actually at one stage considered too big to play rugby.

The Whitgift School-educated midfielder, whose father Gary was a former England trialist, has been in outstanding form for Sarries and his try against the Cherry and Whites at the Stone X Stadium was his seventh in 20 games this season.

The inside centre joined Saracens on an academy contract in November 2022 after Wasps went out of business and he was close to England’s Guinness Six Nations squad after catching the eye playing for England A against Portugal in February.

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McCall has been busy in the transfer market in the last couple of months, bringing in Sam Spink, one of Hartley’s former Wasps teammates, from the Western Force and Wales loosehead Rhys Carre from Cardiff.

Fergus Burke is also arriving in North London from the Crusaders later this year to replace former England skipper Owen Farrell, who is heading to Stuart Lancaster’s Top 14 giants Racing 92 next season.


McCall has also added the Newcastle Falcons pair loosehead Phil Brantingham and young fly-half Louie Johnson and has also spoken to veteran winger Jonny May about switching from Gloucester when his contract runs out at the end of June.


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Abe 2 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

7 Go to comments
Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

17 Go to comments
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