Gloucester vs Saracens: McCall relishing knockout clash after year in the wilderness


aracens travel to Gloucester for tonight’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final, and director of rugby Mark McCall says the knockout jeopardy make it exactly the kind of fixture his team missed in their year in the Championship.

Saracens were relegated for salary cap misdemeanours but returned at the first opportunity, and are competing on two fronts as the season reaches the sharp end.

Sarries have Maro Itoje back in their second row after a couple of weeks off, with Alex Goode recalled at full-back. Alex Lozowski returns from injury to take his place on the bench, a timely boost ahead of a busy run-in in domestic and European competition.

Gloucester have also made three changes to a strong side, with Ollie Thorley set to make his 100th appearance.

“When you get into May and you’re involved in knockout rugby it’s exactly what you want. It’s been a big squad effort to get us to this stage,” said McCall.

“To go to Gloucester on a Friday night in front of their crowd is the kind of atmosphere that we’ve missed and we’re going up against a team that are really on the up.

“They have been brilliant at home and it’s one of the best places to go and play so we’re really looking forward to it.”

London Irish travel to Toulon on Sunday for the final quarter-final. The semis take place next week.

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