Saracens hope to minimise the distress caused by any possible player departures enforced by their breach of salary cap regulations by focusing on their older stars or those near the end of their contract.

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Interim chief executive Edward Griffiths revealed on Monday to RugbyPass that the club may have to reduce their head count or implement wage cuts to comply with the £7million limit for this season.

The English and European champions were docked 35 points and fined £5.36m for beaching the salary cap for each of the past three seasons and their task now is to ensure spending for the current campaign is within the ceiling.

Director of rugby Mark McCall will play a crucial role in any reductions made to the squad and his priority is to ensure they are handled sensitively. “If any changes are required then I’ll be fully involved in those decisions,” McCall said.

“This group have been through a hell of a lot together anyway and they need to see that any player is treated as well as you can treat them in these situations and no one feels like they are squeezed out or anything like that.

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“We’ve got to make sure we do anything that needs to be done really well, and I am sure we will. We are hoping it won’t be too cold. If anything has to happen it will be to players who will be coming towards the end of their careers or their contract ends in four months’ time.

“Ideally that’s what would happen and we need to make sure those players leave the club amicably and on good terms, not on bad terms. I am really desperate for that to be the case because they have given the club a lot in the time they have been here.

“It is tricky, of course it is tricky, and it is not ideal but if something needs to be done, it needs to be done and we will do it as well as we can.”

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Wales full-back Liam Williams will rejoin the Scarlets next season, trimming his salary from the 2020/21 total, but he has not played for Saracens this season due to the ankle injury sustained at the World Cup.

The older players who could be playing their final seasons at Allianz Park are 36-year-old scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, 33-year-old centre Brad Barritt, 32-year-old flanker Michael Rhodes, 31-year-old full-back Alex Goode and 31-year-old Juan Figallo.

Williams’ absence, combined with Alex Goode’s long-term chest injury, had created an opportunity at full-back for Max Malins but he has undergone a foot operation for the second time this season. The 23-year-old, who can also play fly-half, suffered the injury in the recent Premiership defeat at Exeter.

“It’s so disappointing for him to have such cruel luck after he’d had four months out already this season and had come back,” McCall said. “We all saw how exciting he looked. It’s one of those things. He’s a young player and will come back from it.”

– Press Association 

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