Mark McCall: Saracens’ 20 months from crisis to final shot at Premiership return

As boss of Saracens he has won European Cups and Premierships, but Sunday’s Championship Final is one Mark McCall can’t afford to lose.

A failure to return to the Premiership at the first time of asking would be disastrous for Sarries and their star-studded squad.

The three-time kings of Europe travel across London to Ealing for the first of two legs with McCall proud of the way his players have responded to the trauma of enforced relegation.

“People often talk about how much you learn about your organisation when there’s a setback,” he said. “This wasn’t a setback, it was way worse than that.

“So much has happened in 20 months. Back then the club was in crisis and no-one had a crystal ball and knew how it would turn out.

“But with two weeks to go we are in a good position – a much better one than we could have anticipated. It’s been a proper test and I think we’ve passed it.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall

Saracens are set to field Lions-bound quintet Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Elliot Daly at Trailfinders Sports Ground.

McCall said: “Our senior international players could have left but they all stayed. They came back from a tough Six Nations with England, they had Lions selection looming.

“The Championship probably wasn’t the most attractive option for them to be playing in, but every single one of them has just come back and rolled their sleeves up, got in amongst the squad and been phenomenal.”

Despite beating Ealing in the league, two pre-season defeats to them has Saracens on their guard this weekend.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground,” said McCall. “Ealing are a team we respect a lot for obvious reasons. We’re ever so aware of the scale of the challenge.”

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