Championship delay won’t hurt Saracens’ England stars, says coach Alex Sanderson

Alex Sanderson says Saracens England stars will hit the Six Nations running despite now not having any league rugby until March.

Championship chiefs will today announce that plans to kick off England’s second tier competition on January 16 has been shelved due to lockdown restrictions.

That means Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly, Jamie George and the Vunipola brothers will go into the Six Nations not having played a game since England’s autumn campaign ended a fortnight ago.

But Sanderson, who coaches forwards and defence at Saracens and is linked to the vacant lead role at Sale, said: “Those lads are in a brilliant position.


“With no need from us to play them in big games, because we have none, we can manage them solely so that they peak for the internationals."

England launch their Six Nations title defence at home to Scotland on February 6.

Sanderson added: “Previously these guys have gone into England camp on the back of European matches. For the first time they’ve been able just to focus on internationals.

“They’re not getting pulled between two masters, which is generally the case and consequently their bodies are probably in the best shape they’ve been for a long time.”

Sanderson insists Saracens, who were relegated for multiple salary cap breaches, will not take the Championship lightly, assuming it ever starts.

“There are a few teams in the Championship that are no mugs,” he said. “If you go into those games with a bad attitude you lose.

“So we can’t tread water. I absolutely think we can come back stronger and our aim has to be to come back into the Premiership a better team than we left it.”

EXETER have refused to react to claims from Glasgow of Covid-19 protocols being breached when the sides met at Sandy Park last week.

Chiefs, reigning champions of Europe, won the match 42-0 but a number of their players and staff then tested positive for coronavirus.

That forced not only their game at Toulouse yesterday to be called off, but also Glasgow’s next two games due to four Warriors players later testing positive.

With 28-0 defeats assigned to both teams by organisers for pulling out of games, each now faces an uphill task to reach the knockout stages.

And it has emerged that Glasgow are preparing an official complaint both to the tournament organisers and Exeter.

A report claims the Scottish outfit are concerned at a “lack of mask-wearing and social distancing among Exeter substitutes and non-playing staff”.

Of the games that did go ahead on Saturday Gloucester and Munster had most to celebrate.

Days after revealing the departure of Danny Cipriani, Gloucester snatched a 38-34 victory over Ulster with a last-gasp try from super-sub George Barton.

Munster trailed Clermont 28-9 after 25 minutes but staged a stunning recovery to win 39-31.

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