Sarries on red alert
Fri, 25 Apr 2014 19:37
They can accommodate a loss like that
Clermont may have suffered the blow of losing captain Aurelien Rougerie on the eve of their European Cup semifinal but Saracens will not take them lightly.
Rougerie is suffering from the hamstring strain he sustained during last Saturday's domestic Top 14 22-6 defeat by Racing Metro and his place in the centres has been taken by Benson Stanley.
"He's obviously a world-class player and he's been a phenomenal leader for Clermont like Steve (Borthwick) has been for us down the years," Saracens coach Mark McCall told a Twickenham news conference on Friday.
"But if you look down their teamsheet, there's vast experience so like a lot of top teams I think they can accommodate a loss like that.
"They've got Benson Stanley, who isn't too shabby, to take his place - it's a loss, I'm sure it is for them, but they've got a very experienced group."
France flank Julien Bonnaire will captain Clermont at Twickenham, with coach Vern Cotter saying his side had prepared for Rougerie's absence.
"We knew after the match against Racing it was not looking good," Cotter said.
"We worked with the others this week knowing he may not play," added the New Zealander, who will take charge of Scotland after the end of this season.
"It doesn't change much, you expect those things to happen - obviously someone else can come in, it changes things a bit but not too much."
Saracens, beaten at this stage last season by eventual champions Toulon - who play Irish province Munster in Sunday's second semifinal - had injury concerns of their own this week over Owen Farrell.
But the England flyhalf has been passed fit after suffering a foot injury against English Premiership rivals Northampton earlier this month.
But back-up pivot Charlie Hodgson, the former England international, has been ruled out with a calf problem and so fullback Alex Goode will deputise at flyhalf during the match should the need arise.
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