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'Racing have a big pack with Finn Russell pulling the strings, so they have some X-factor'

By PA
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Elliot Daly insists Saracens must be ready for the unexpected from Scotland maverick Finn Russell when they attempt to cause another European upset in Paris on Saturday. Racing 92 are the next opponents standing between the double winners and a fifth Champions Cup final appearance in seven years.

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Directing the Parisians is Russell, their genius fly-half who has been in outstanding form in the Top 14 and poses the greatest threat to Saracens springing another surprise a week after Leinster were toppled in Dublin. “Racing have a big pack with Finn Russell pulling the strings, so they have some X-factor as well. We’re looking at what we can do to nullify that,” Daly said.

“You always have to be wary of what Finn can do. He’s a player who will try things in the game and when it comes off it’s brilliant. It’s something you have to be aware of. But we’ve played against Johnny Sexton at Leinster and with his skill set, you also know you have to be prepared for whatever is thrown at you. It’s about being able to anticipate what will happen next and always being in the game.”

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Saracens secured another week of European action by defying the odds to inflict a first defeat on Leinster in 16 months. The Champions Cup is their only possible source of silverware this season, at the end of which they will be relegated from the Gallagher Premiership as punishment for repeated salary cap breaches.

“Stuff hasn’t gone our way this season which means Europe is the only tangible thing we can go for,” said Daly, who swapped Wasps for Saracens in summer 2019 in the hope of winning trophies. “There’s a lot of pressure in Europe for us, but there’s a lot of excitement about it as well.

“Talking to the boys here, they speak very highly of their European semi-finals and finals. I want to try and get there as well. We’ve used the Premiership games really well by blooding the youngsters and getting everyone on the same page so that when we get into the big weeks, we know exactly what we want to do. We’ve used the Premiership as the build-up to these games, but also to create a winning mentality and winning momentum.”

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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