Coach: Brendan Venter
Home ground: Vicarage Road
Kelly Brown (back-row, Glasgow), Deon Carstens (prop, Sharks), Nils Mordt (centre, Harlequins), Matt Parr (prop, Nottingham), David Strettle (wing, Harlequins), Richard Wigglesworth (scrum-half, Sale)
Matius Aguero (prop, Aironi), Richard Haughton (wing, Wasps), Glen Jackson (fly-half, retired), Kas Lelamanua (prop, released), Justin Marshall (scrum-half, retired), Tom Mercey (prop, Northampton), Fabio Ongaro (hooker, Aironi), Michael Owen (number eight, retired), Moses Rauluni (scrum-half, retired), Kevin Sorrell (centre, retired), Wikus van Heerden (Lions)
Saracens showed very different sides to their personality last season. Early on, they played a dull, conservative and highly effective game that won them more games than admirers, but then later in the season, they let themselves play with more width and put together some of the most exciting performances – not least in the season climax that so nearly won them the trophy.
One concern may be in the back-row where two of last season’s top performers, Michael Owen and Wikus van Heerden, have both left the club. Owen has been forced to retire at the ripe old age of 29 after talks with other clubs broke down due to failed medicals. Kelly Brown ought to be able to slot in with Ernst Joubert and Andy Saull but there’s a slight lack of depth there.
One to watch:
Alex Goode had a phenomenal season last year, and many felt that he should have been higher up the England pecking order. Another strong showing could see him force his way into the reckoning for the Rugby World Cup next year.
If Saracens can maintain their camaraderie and keep the squad relatively injury-free they should be able to pick up some big wins during international weekends as they are unlikely to be troubled by too many call-ups – 2nd