Follow all the action on the RugbyPass live blog from the Heineken Champions Cup match between Saracens and Ospreys at Allianz Park.
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Saracens parade three of England’s World Cup finalists, including debutant Elliot Daly, as they attempt to lift the gloom generated by the salary cap scandal by igniting their Champions Cup defence.
Daly, a high-profile summer signing from Wasps, will make his first appearance for the double winners after being picked at full-back and there are also returns for prop Mako Vunipola and second row George Kruis.
A fourth member of Eddie Jones’ squad is on the bench in Jamie George, while club captain Brad Barritt returns after six weeks out because of concussion.
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Saracens made an inauspicious start to their quest for a fourth European crown by falling 30-10 at Racing 92 and must topple the Ospreys at Allianz Park to avoid the early demise of their title aspirations.
The double winners are reeling after being docked 35 points and fined £5.36million for breaching salary cap regulations, plunging them into a desperate battle for Gallagher Premiership survival.
Director of rugby Mark McCall is entering uncharted waters as he balances crisis on the domestic front with the need to stage a meaningful challenge in Europe. “This squad have been tested over the 10 years that I have been here and had some good challenges along the way,” McCall said.
'Saracens have become a toxic brand and only time can get them back to where they want to be'
– @chrisjonespress hears one sponsorship expert voice grave concern for the Saracens brand in the marketplace https://t.co/fUYy7BBLSV
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 19, 2019
“This, in a funny kind of way, is a new and very different challenge. It’s easy to get our approach wrong and go into games with anxiety and become desperate. That’s not when we operate at our best. The job of our staff and senior players is to make sure that we are free to go and play our best rugby, not be counting points on the table and that kind of thing.
“It’s a big job to do and it’s not a straightforward one. It’s not easy. It’s new territory for us. In Europe, there’s always a chance to come up with a strategy that gives you a chance. Certainly winning your home games is a very good way of doing that and giving yourself a chance, and after four rounds seeing where you are at.
‘Honesty, fight, work ethic, togetherness, a good place to work… those values and characteristics are coming to the fore again’
– Allen Clarke tells @heagneyl about his determination to turn @ospreys back into a success story https://t.co/3P0IUvGxl7
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 15, 2019
“We can’t play our players all the time, we can’t play our international players every week, but we do want to do well in the competition. Obviously, we didn’t get off to a great start at the weekend, so big rotation is going to be the order of the day.”
The Ospreys have made a dismal start to the Guinness PRO14 but field Wales internationals Alun Wyn Jones, George North and Justin Tipuric at Allianz Park.
WATCH: Going Pro, the RugbyPass documentary on Saracens Women’s rugby team as they defend their Premiership title
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