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Saturday 19 October 2019

McCall playing same injury game

Mark McCall
Mark McCall

Saracens coach Mark McCall is playing the same hand for the Champions Cup final that he played in the semi-final.

And it isn't fooling anyone.

Ahead of the semi-final, McCall expressed the confidence that Mako Vunipola and Brad Barritt were fully fit for the purpose of putting Munster to the sword.

Mako missed England's last three matches in the Six Nations with an ankle injury and lasted just 62 minutes against Munster in the semi-final before leaving prematurely.

The England and British & Irish Lions test prop is a core cog in the forward pack alongside his controversial brother Billy.

He has not been rolled out by Saracens for the last two weeks against either Wasps or Exeter, fuelling speculation that his ankle is still not right.

McCall has trotted out the 'nothing to see here' line as Vunipola bids to complete his recovery.

Even then, Leinster should, and will, show no mercy in tasking Tadhg Furlong to go after Vunipola, testing out his lower limbs in the scrum.

McCall also expressed confidence in Barritt's miraculous powers of recovery.

The stories are legion of the South African hard man's capacity to play through the pain barrier.

Still, Saracens defensive leader lasted barely beyond half-time when forced to leave the Ricoh Arena on one leg in the semi-final.

There has to be serious concerns over his mobility and durability in what is bound to be a fast-paced final at St James' Park.

There is also a question mark over Michael Rhodes back which has been giving the flanker problems, even though McCall preached the probability of being able to be at full-strength side for Saturday.

In fairness, there is every reason for McCall to present the best case scenario.

The week off given to Saracens' first fifteen leaves them refreshed, with no excuses in their quest to make it three European Cups in four years.

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