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Preview: Saracens v London Wasps

Preview: Saracens v London Wasps

There is a feel-good factor around Saracens this season, with many pundits already suggesting the club are Aviva Premiership champions-elect but boss Mark McCall is getting far from carried away with his side’s early form.

Saracens recorded a fourth straight Aviva Premiership victory at Harlequins last Saturday, and have not lost at home in the tournament in the regular season since Harlequins were the visitors to Wembley Stadium in March 2012.

London Wasps ended an unwanted sequence of 11 straight defeats last time out against Worcester Warriors but instead it’s the form of centre Joel Tomkins that is dominating McCall’s thoughts.

England will be without both Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi for the autumn internationals, leaving Stuart Lancaster with just two fit centres in England's Elite Player Squad – Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees and Bath's Kyle Eastmond.

And McCall is convinced the form rugby league convert Tomkins has displayed so far for Saracens this season means he is a realistic contender for an England spot next month.

"Joel is not going to suffer stage fright if he were to be picked for England," said McCall.

"The higher up he goes in a sport, the better he is. He would relish it, not be cowed by it.

“He has brought over that big-game mentality from rugby league. He has improved so much in the last six months, especially in his decision-making.

“He is forceful, physical, has great offloading skills and is in the mould of Conrad Smith.”

London Wasps' 11-game losing run came to a welcome end with their convincing bonus point victory over Worcester at Adams Park last weekend.

Wasps may have been defeated in their last six Premiership away games but have at least recorded four losing bonus points in that sequence and flanker Sam Jones is predicting another step in the right direction against Saracens this weekend.

Wasps’ only victory over Saracens in their last six fixtures was 20-15 at Twickenham during the 2011 London Double Header but Jones is not concerned about the challenge that awaits them this weekend.

“We have been down at Maidenhead to train on the 4G pitch ahead of the Saracens game, every little helps in the big games,” he said.

“I have personally never played at Allianz Park but the pitch seems to make for a fast game and any practice we can get ahead of that can only be a good thing.

“It makes for a quick game no matter what the weather so it takes that out of the equation and we can just focus on what needs to be done out on the pitch. We are looking to build on last weekend.”

Referee: Luke Pearce (17th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle & Gareth Copsey. TMO: Keith Lewis. 

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