Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, who is on course to become the first Premiership player to appear in 300 games, has signed a short term contract that will keep him at the club until this season is completed.
Wigglesworth is 37-year-old but believes his fitness and desire to play at the highest level will give him the chance to get to 300 games although he accepts it may be achieved in another club’s colours. For now, he remains a key figure at Saracens, who have been relegated after breaching the league’s salary cap rules, with the Heineken Champions Cup defending champions facing Leinster in Dublin in a titanic quarter-final on the weekend of 18-20 September.
There are also nine regular season rounds of the Gallagher Premiership to complete and with fellow England scrum-half Ben Spencer heading to his new club Bath on Friday, Saracens, who are the defending champions, will be relying heavily on the experience and tactical brilliance of Wigglesworth.
To date, Wigglesworth has played a record 286 Premiership games for Sale and Saracens, winning six league titles and three Heineken Cups, and while he will not be at the club next season, he acknowledges that at least he gets to finish the season rather than departing before the COVID-19 lockdown ends and matches can resume. Players such as Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Will Skelton and those who have opted for loan deals while Saracens are in the Championship, must now start bedding in with their new clubs.
For a club that prides itself on creating a special family atmosphere, the current upheavals and limited inter-action with the players operating in small groups as part of the return to play protocols makes this a strange and unsettling time for everyone.
Wigglesworth told RugbyPass: “I will see out the season with Saracens and have signed a deal to do that and I don’t know about next season. I have only been bothered about making sure I see out this season because if you have been somewhere for 10 years you don’t want to be sudden and I feel for the lads who have had to leave. To move without any closure isn’t good. In terms of the future, it is a case of picking what is best for me next and that will be to play on because I have come back in good shape like the rest of the lads.
“This current situation has taught us to be adaptable and make good decisions and having got finishing the season with Saracens sorted, I can now make sure I make the right decision next for me and the family. Saracens is all about the people and for some players not to be there will be strange and its tough they don’t get the send-off they deserve.
“The quarter-final with Leinster is a long way off but we know we are playing the best team of the season and it will get us all excited.”
Wigglesworth admits reaching 300 Premiership games is in his thoughts and it would be a remarkable achievement given the demands of the professional sport. “ I would be lying if I didn’t admit I know that figure is there: “he added. “ It would be nice to be close to it and nip over the top in the next couple of years. Currently, we are training in small groups and we getting to see some of the lads and I have been training with Brad Barritt, Richard Barrington and Will Hooley who has joined the club.
“We are saying goodbye to Ben Spencer on Friday and it will be nice to watch him at Bath as the main cog in their wheel and he will bring a lot to the club. I have been really well looked after by the club and have the desire to continue and I am still obsessed with the game and want to get better. That is why I feel I still have time left in the game.”
Wigglesworth has been coaching the Ealing Trailfinders backs in recent seasons and could find himself helping the club prepare to take on Saracens in the Championship next season although this has yet to be confirmed as he sorts out his next contract.
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