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Saracens boss Mark McCall explains why he took off Schalk Brits in 30-13 Heineken Cup win over Racing Metro
Director of rugby Mark McCall insists there were tactical reasons behind the decision to take off Schalk Brits in the second half of Saracens’ 30-13 victory over Racing Metro but admitted there are downsides to the club’s rotation policy.
Brits was highly-influential in the first half but was replaced by John Smit early in the second and his absence coincided with a lull in Saracens’ performance.
The Men in Black struggled to build on an assertive first half display and may have been disappointed they were unable to take home five points instead of four.
McCall said: “It’s a philosophy we have at the club that we’ve got outstanding players on the bench and we’ll use them and we’ll continue to do that as a club.
“We had John Smit coming off the bench who’s no mean player himself but of course Schalk was outstanding - he had an amazing first half and the question will be asked why he came off.
“But Mako Vunipola came on and John Smit and Mako have scrummed a lot together and their scrum was putting us under a lot of pressure so there are other areas to consider and our scrum actually worked together very well in that last 20 minutes.”
Saracens’ constant rotation of their players has come under intense scrutiny this season but McCall insists it’s about getting the balance right.
He added: “We know and we understand that there are downsides to how we operate in rotation with substitutions but we also think there are massive upsides and we think in the end the upsides outweigh the downsides.”
The Sarries boss also revealed Rhys Gill suffered an injury to his ribs and could be out for two to three weeks while Kelly Brown played despite feeling unwell in the lead up to the match.
"Rhys Gill went off at half time with a problem with his ribs so we’ll have to see how he is. It could well be a rib cartilage which could be two or three week," McCall said.
"Kelly brown was pretty sick in the lead up to the match as well so it was a wondeful effort by Kelly to play the 55 minutes he did."