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Friday 23 June 2017

Saracens mastermind McCall could answer Ireland's Call

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens centre Brad Barritt has described Director of Rugby Mark McCall as an "unbelievable" international coach.

It comes on the eve of the English club's Champions Cup semi-final against Munster in The Aviva Stadium tomorrow (KO 3.0, BTSport 3).

When Joe Schmidt eventually returns to New Zealand, probably after the 2019 World Cup, the IRFU would do well to recruit the most successful Irish coach at work in the professional game.

"Mark is probably one of the best coaches in world rugby," said Barritt.

"He would be an unbelievable international coach. I guess it probably comes down to what he wants to do.

"It would be a very sad day for Saracens if he ever decided to do that."

McCall has been the face of the organisation in mapping Saracens' evolution from a defence-first force of nature to a well-balanced outfit in which their attack has been ramped up.

As a novice coach, McCall drove Ulster to what stands alone as their only Magner's League crown in 2006.

Since then, he has steered Sarries to become the dominant club in The Premiership and to their first Champions Cup title last year.

"Mark is the rock," said Barritt. He is at the core of everything good about Saracens.

"He has an unbelievable rugby brain and is widely admired across the rugby world.

"More importantly, he echoes the things we value most.

"His work rate is second-to-none and he brings a humility to the job which is underplayed."

McCall will have the inside track on Munster's mindset and it is similar in steel to that of the European Cup champions.

The tragic passing of Anthony Foley is still a guiding light for the men in Red.

"It probably just acted as a galvanising force," stated the experienced Barritt.

"Playing in his honour is something they've given great respect to.

Intensity

"You can just see a band of brothers, a team that plays for each other.

"You can see the intensity and fight, the extra edge they bring to all parts of their game.

"That has been the overwhelming trait of Munster."

For all of the embedded respect, there is a job of work to be done.

There is a feeling Munster may lose an edge in foregoing Thomond Park for The Aviva Stadium.

"We understand the task that is at hand," issued Barritt.

"No, it is still going to be an away game for us. We understand how well Munster fans travel," he said. This came with a health warning.

"We have always thrived on these challenges in the past of going to these big arenas, playing against successful teams in front of away crowds."

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