Saracens have a reputation as a club that has a tendency to flash the cash, the premiership’s big spenders.
Some of the finest rugby talent have pulled on the red and black over the years but yet Sarries were still the great underachievers. Well until that great day at Twickenham in 2011.
So what has changed? It would be wrong to say that Sarries have left their love of a big star behind, Chris Ashton’s well publicised move being the most recent.
There is now just another emphasis for the club, yes they want to be successful that goes without saying, but now they do it while producing some of England’s most promising youngsters along the way.
A point highlighted by the fact that in the recent LV= cup game against Leicester Tigers, Sarries had World Cup Winner and South Africa’s most capped player, John Smit, warming the bench.
The more cynical among us could question whether or not chances would be given so readily if injuries hadn’t happened.
But the truth is, they are a part of sport, it is unavoidable. The most important thing is how they are dealt with and Saracens have the knack of making sure that the next player in line is ready and raring to go, regardless of their age or first team experience.
The ‘A’ league has obviously helped in preparing young players by giving them game time and the ability to test out their skills and try new things in an environment with less pressure.
It is a concept that obviously works, with many of those players that have graced the league going on to first team honours and in some cases, international caps.
A shining example of this is Saracens’ very own Alex Goode. When I first went down to Old Albanians on a Monday night, he was pulling the strings at fly half for the Storm and now he is doing exactly the same not only week in week out for Sarries but now in the white of England too, all be it with a position change in between.
However, one of the main problems with this league, especially with the pool system it operates, is that the matches are limited and often inconsistent due to the weather or inability for clubs to field a team.
This is where Saracens have taken matters into their own hands with the help of championship side, Bedford Blues.
Through the ever growing relationship with the Blues, Sarries’ youngsters get the ability to gain experience against high quality opposition week in week out.
A venture that when needed most, paid off. When Sarries’ back row injury crisis was at its height, up stepped Will Fraser and Jackson Wray, both who are dual registered with Bedford this season.
Since coming into the side, both have consistently been two of the best players on the pitch regardless of the calibre of opposition and they have been rewarded by keeping Ernst Joubert and Andy Saull out of the starting line up on their returns.
However, the most telling sign of the impact both players have made so far, is that even the loss of player of the quality of Jacques Burger has been felt. Something I am sure we can all agree is a lot easier said than done.
Don’t get me wrong, it will not always be plain sailing for Saracens’ youngsters. The LV= cup loss against Sale on Friday showed this.
However, one thing that is for certain is that not only is the future looking bright, it is looking red and black as well.