Warren Gatland has been assured that Saracens’ stars will be ready to deliver for the Lions despite playing second division club rugby.
Head coach Gatland was absent from StoneX Stadium where the strongest Championship side ever selected handed leaders Ealing a five-try beating.
But Sarries boss Mark McCall insisted he had no need to worry about players who were way off for England in the Six Nations due to a lack of game time following the club’s demotion.
“Our players won’t be undercooked in any way,” he pledged after Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Elliot Daly, the Vunipola brothers and Owen Farrell combined to see off Ealing.
“Our players are getting more rugby than the Welsh, Scottish and Irish. They’re hardly playing at all. Look at them and see if they’re undercooked. We don’t worry about that.”
McCall admits he has not spoken with Gatland about Lions selection but doesn’t think he needs to given the standing of the players in question.
There was certainly no doubting their attitude and application as they ran hot in avenging two pre-season losses to their London rivals.
Farrell kicked 23 points and Daly bossed the midfield as Saracens moved to within five points of top spot with a game in hand.
Billy Vunipola suffered sore ribs in a fiercely physical contest but McCall played down the severity of the injury.
He then predicted that should Saracens, as expected, qualify for the play-off final the two-leg shootout for a Premiership place will be a perfect springboard for the Lions.
“Fingers crossed they can finish their domestic season with a couple of really meaningful matches,” he said. “There will be crowds by then too. They’ll be the biggest matches we’ve played.”
Daly’s contribution at outside-centre yesterday was the most eye-catching.
It was against Championship opposition, albeit a club which McCall believes are of “mid-table Premiership” standard.
But he was back playing with the freedom, confidence and eye for a gap which made him a Lions Test starter last time round.
“That ability to play as many positions as he can will benefit Elliot,” said McCall. “He has incredible flexibility. He’s also playing well.”
George North’s injury playing for Ospreys on Saturday might yet open the door for the Englishman.
But as with his club mates on the Lions radar, much depends on Saracens' ability to stay interested over the remaining games now it appears they have one foot in the final.
SARACENS – Tries: Lewington, Koch 2, Davies, Tompkins. Cons: Farrell 4. Pens: Farrell 5.
EALING – Tries: Penalty, Buckley. Con: Johnston. Pens: Willis 2.
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