Three stars who can win the Champions Cup Final for Saracens
As Gallagher Premiership Rugby side Saracens look to lift the Champions Cup for the third time in four years, they know it won’t be easy as reigning champions Leinster stand in their way.
The Irish outfit beat out Saracens 30-19 on their way to lifting the trophy last year – and Mark McCall’s men will be desperate for revenge.
But with talent all over the pitch – and Leinster renowned for their ability to work as a unit beyond the sum of their parts – Saracens will need individuals to step up.
Here’s who could win the Champions Cup Final for the Gallagher Premiership Rugby side:
The England star is used to showing off his athleticism as a lock, but McCall’s decision to move him to the flanker position may cause some unease for his opponents.
The 24-year-old has been key to Saracens’ stellar form in Gallagher Premiership Rugby this season – on both ends of the field.
With 89 carries yielding 477 metres gained, the England international has also put in 203 successful tackles.
He has been duly rewarded for beating 23 defenders and achieving eight line breaks by dotting down four times in Gallagher Premiership Rugby this season – all at crucial times.
His lineout ability and tendency to urge more energy into any Saracens performance has endeared him to North London.
And when he comes up against Leinster dangerman James Ryan, he’ll be more than a match for the Irishman.
In the rare moments that Saracens struggled for inspiration, Itoje was there to bail them out – and in a raucous, pressurised St James’ Park, they may well need him again.
It’s no secret that Will Skelton was struggling for form – and time on the pitch – earlier this season.
But the former Wallabies star – who reaffirmed his commitment to Saracens by declining a World Cup call to stay in North London – has been in stunning form towards the end of the season.
Shedding 21kg, Skelton has forced his way into Mark McCall’s plan in recent months with his brand of powerful running and robust defence.
With five tries to his name and 49 defenders beaten, he has terrorised Gallagher Premiership Rugby defenders in recent games – including a famous hit on Exeter Chiefs’ talent Gareth Steenson.
He’s been so good that he’s forced Itoje out of the second row – and Saracens’ fans will hope he can build on this spring’s performances against the likes of Wasps and Harlequins.
You can’t think of Saracens without the mind wandering to Owen Farrell.
The England international has put in some virtuoso performances this year – both at home and Europe – as he inches Saracens closer towards the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final and of course, the Champions Cup Final.
27 conversions and 21 penalties domestically – in addition to seven assists and 60 tackles – make him the first name on Mark McCall’s team sheet.
Leinster are a top defensive outfit – and despite the offensive verve that Saracens have all over the team, this game could be decided from the tee.
Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell both scored three penalties apiece when the sides faced off last year – and another two each in the Six Nations earlier this year.
With the pair up against each other again, Farrell will know he’ll need to recreate the domestic and European performances if he is to match up with the current World Rugby Player of the Year.