Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has urged his players to focus ahead of tough start to the Gallagher Premiership season with a trip to Harlequins. 

The Men in Black, who had a bye in Round 1, kickstart their campaign at The Stoop on Saturday in a London derby which promises fireworks. 

Quins needed two late tries from England internationals Alex Dombrandt and Joe Marchant to secure all five points away to Newcastle Falcons last weekend in a thrilling 11-try back-and-forth. 

And McCall highlighted Lennox Anyanwu’s superb score, which saw Quins run the ball from one try line to the other, as a prime example of the challenge that Saracens face in Twickenham. 

“The try from 100m says everything,” said McCall. “You think you’ve got them, but you never have them.  

“They’re the sort of team that if you don’t focus and don’t concentrate all the time, they’ll get you in the blink of an eye.  

“They’ve got the talent and the athletes who can hurt you quickly. We’ve learned that down the years the hard way, to be honest.  

“That Quins DNA is still there, the team who can conjure up something out of nothing. 

“It’s obviously a brilliant fixture to play. We’ve always had great games against them down the years.  

“Going to the Stoop, it’s a difficult place to go. They’re a great side now, they’ve got some superb players and well-coached. So it’s a tough start for us, that’s for sure.” 

And McCall may well be without England internationals Jamie George, Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola after they all featured in the third Test decider against Australia. 

“There is a ten-week rule in place and if you think a player should get exempted from that maybe because of an injury from the previous year then you can apply to reduce that by a week,” explained McCall. 

“Hopefully we will see a few this week and we will make decisions on all of them at the end of the week 

“It’s a pity the season doesn’t start a bit later sometimes to get off a bang with everybody being available.  

“But sometimes that is not the case, so it is a difficult balance between having those payers available for us in the round two game, game one for us, and doing the right thing by them.  

“We will just make some sensible decisions around all those players.” 

Fortunately, McCall has options at his disposal, despite the injury to Nick Isiekwe who will be out for the rest of 2022, and beamed when asked how new lock Hugh Tizard, who will return to his former stomping ground at The Stoop, was settling into life in North London. 

“He really has [hit the ground running]. First and foremost, he’s a brilliant young fella,” said McCall. 

“He’s fitted in brilliantly with our group who have taken to him right away, not just because he’s actually a good bloke, but because he wants to get stuck into the rugby.  

“So I think we’ve got a good one.”