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England hopeful Andy Saull says Brian Moore's criticism of Saracens' style of play is 'narrow-minded' and 'old school'
England hopeful Andy Saull has defended Saracens’ approach to developing their young stars and branded Brian Moore’s criticism this week as "narrow-minded" and "an old-school view of rugby".
Moore, who earned 64 caps for England from 1987 to 1995, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Saracens’ defensive style of play ‘could stunt England creativity’ because some the country’s brightest young talents are ‘attempting a fraction of what they are capable of’ under Mark McCall’s stewardship.
Saull is one of the most promising open-sides in the country and may well have been included in England’s tour of South Africa in the summer had he not suffered a serious knee injury in March.
The 24-year-old, now recovered, is desperate to prove his international quality as soon as possible and dismissed Moore’s view that Saracens’ style of play could hold him back.
Saull said: “That’s a very narrow-minded view in my opinion of the way we play rugby.
“As far as technical development goes, does he mean are we working on our skills on a daily basis? You can’t preach that, what Saracens and the club preach is something that’s more important than any individual element - it preaches working hard and a team ethic.
“With young England players the individual skill is there, they’re quality players that’s why they’ve been selected, you just have to then build the squad.
“It’s an old-school view of rugby that one man’s brilliance can win a game, it takes 15 players all working in the same way.”
Moore believes England may have to add more creativity to their play in order to compete with the world’s best sides, which he suggested could exclude Saracens’ players.
But with coach Andy Farrell leaving the Men in Black to join Stuart Lancaster in the summer, Saull believes England’s principles are drawing closer to Saracens’ not further away.
He said: “Everything England do at the top has been born out of a lot of the Saracens culture.
“With Andy Farrell there now he’s realised what a good thing we have going on at Saracens and he’s tried to instil that with England.
“So to say that England youngsters aren’t getting the right training they need, well then why is the England team taking so much of what we do?”
Saull points to team-mates Mako Vunipola and Alex Goode, who have both played their way into England contention recently, as evidence that Saracens is still a worthy platform for the international stage.
Much of the scepticism surrounding the team’s performances stems from a try-drought, which has seen the team now fail to get over the line in 280 minutes of play.
It’s a problem that may come to the fore on Sunday when Saracens will be expected to dictate against newly-promoted London Welsh.
Saull will be making his first start in over six months and is not expecting an easy ride.
“It’s one of those games where you can’t force it,” Saull said.
“You never write a team off, from one to 15 the guys there have learned how to graft, they’ve come through the Championship and they’re players who know how to win games.
“We know it’s going to be a scrappy game of rugby so the forwards have got to do their jobs set-piece wise and with the backs it’s no thrills - let’s just really have a go at them and try and break them physically.”
Kick off at the Kassam Stadium is 2.15pm.