The 2012/13 season saw major and exciting changes for the Saracens set up. The team finished top of the league and in some style having been previously labelled the boring boys of the competition. The move to our own home made a difference not only for the team but also for us supporters. We now have atmosphere and can fully show the support the team deserves.
So what will the new year bring us? The club have signed two very exciting forwards in Billy Vunipola and James Johnson. Billy joins the club having previously shone at Wasps; having watched Billy play last year I always had one thought as he came into the game; when was he going to give a penalty not if. Saracens are a very tight knit team with a lot of experience both on the playing and coaching staff. They won’t tolerate as many penalties, he has a master of the game in Ernst Joubert to learn from. James Johnson joined us from Harlequins where he had a successful season, also one to give penalties away, so lots of work for the forwards coaches ahead. A comparison of pack weights across the league would be interesting, however the change in scrummaging laws should see the number of penalties given and won shifting. Pace and movement across the field will be key for the forwards rather than size. Saracens start the season without our star hooker Schalk Britts having had a moment of madness when he was playing with the Ba Baas; we have a forward there who could basically play in any position including the wing! The new season should see several of our young players continue to improve and come to the attention of the England set up.
The Saracens back line has been added to by the signing of Tim Streather the Championship player of the year for 2012/13, he can take up a position at Centre or on the wing and scored 160 points in his 4 year career at Nottingham. This year sees a return of Michael Tagicakibau the Fijian winger, he had a successful run out for the 7’s team who made the finals in Bath. Having had a chance to talk to him after the friendly game against Bedford it’s plain that there will be significant competition for all spots across the team, with international duty and rotation ensuring that everyone should get the opportunity to shine.
This next part I’m going to say very quietly; as a passionate rugby league fan I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Joel Tomkins grow into his role in the Centre. He was an outstanding player at Wigan Warriors, it will have taken a lot of courage to change codes; something many have failed at. Based on last season he has a bright future in front of him, it’s great to see him helping my team win, rather than watching him help annihilate my alternative team, London Broncos.
The season kicks off on Saturday, this Saracens fan is anticipating a very successful season, going further in both the Premiership and the Heineken Cup! Bring it on, Saracens are building something special! ‘Making Memories’