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Saracens preview 2012/13

There is no doubting last season's failure to finish with silverware will have hurt Saracens.

Pain of failure motivates McCall's men

There is no doubting last season's failure to finish with silverware will have hurt Saracens. Having been beaten finalists in 2010, Sarries had performed superbly as they toppled Leicester to claim the Premiership title the following season. However Leicester had their revenge back in May as they edged out Mark McCall's men in the semi-finals. Saracens, though, will use the pain of that failure to drive them on - with the club retaining a large majority of their squad for the forthcoming campaign. Hayden Smith, who has swapped rugby union for the NFL, Hugh Vyvyan, Michael Tagicakibau and Marcus Watson will no long be involved, however the new arrivals will only strengthen the squad. England international Chris Ashton is one of the leading wingers in world rugby - with a fine record of 33 tires in 51 Premiership appearances - while South Africans Alistair Hargreaves and Nick Fenton-Wells are battle-hardened performers. Young Italian prop Lorenzo Romano has also signed and big things are expected of the 23-year-old, while Jono Ross has been on trial from the Bulls. These players will team up with an already well-established squad, which over the course of the past 12 months has finally started to gain the international recognition it deserves - with England calls for Mouritz Botha, Brad Barritt, Alex Goode and Owen Farrell. The call-ups have not stopped with the playing staff either, though, with head coach Andy Farrell opting to leave the club and take up a role in the England back-room staff.

Saracens stats

Director of rugby: Mark McCall
Captain: Steve Borthwick
Sky Bet odds: 3/1
Last season: 3rd (Beaten semi-finalists)
In: Chris Ashton (Northampton), Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks), Nick Fenton-Wells (Western Province), Lorenzo Romano (Aironi), Jono Ross (Bulls)
Out: Hayden Smith (New York Jets NFL), Hugh Vyvyan (retired), Michael Tagicakibau (Bristol), Marcus Watson (England Sevens)
Key man - Joel Tomkins: The cross-code covert made the switch in November 2011 and having patiently learned his craft, he looks like he could be the real deal in the No.13 shirt
Prediction: 1st (champions)

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