Unlike many of their English counterparts, Saracens have decided not to introduce many of their national players back into the fray for their Champions Cup contest with Racing 92 in Paris this weekend. 

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This was expected, as the reigning champions look set to be handed a 35-point deduction in the Gallagher Premiership for breaching the salary cap. Subsequently, their European endeavours will play second fiddle this season as they plough all of their resources into survival in the Premiership. 

Equally, Mark McCall may still be resting his England players due to their heavy workload in Japan, as they made up the spine of Eddie Jones’ team and were frequently used. 

However, while the Vunipola brothers, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly are still absent, it would still be a stretch to say that this side is weak. 

The starting front row of Rhys Carre, Jack Singleton and Titi Lamositale have all come from RWC campaigns with Wales, England and the USA respectively, while RWC winner Vincent Koch sits on the bench. 

Likewise, Ben Spencer and Sean Maitland were also in Japan. Will Skelton, Nick Isiekwe and Alex Lozowski are Test players, and Ben Earl, captain Jackson Wray and Nick Tompkins would likely start in a full-strength side. 

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Of course, many would say that due to the salary cap breaches Saracens have been accused of, they can afford to rest so many players and still have such a sensational squad. Nonetheless, while their attention may possibly be on their domestic front this season, they can still be competitive in Europe, albeit in a devilish pool with Racing 92, Munster and the Ospreys.

The reigning Premiership champions travelled to Gloucester last weekend in the midst of the storm that surrounds them and still managed to come away with a solid win. 

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Regardless of who is missing, McCall’s side are always a hard nut to crack and they could prove that in the opening rounds of the Champions Cup. 

Should they come away from the first few rounds in a good position, their England players will surely filter into the squad as the Champions Cup progresses. 

If they look as though they will be able to ensure safety domestically in spite of the 35-point deficit, their attention can turn to winning their fourth European title. 

The best thing from Saracens’ perspective is that this is the perfect time to face Racing, who have only won three games from their opening nine in the Top 14. If they can come away from La Defense Arena with any points, their European hopes will be very much alive.  

WATCH: Former Saracens player Jim Hamilton discusses the salary cap scandal surrounding his old club

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