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Kelly Brown’s Scotland axe could hit Matt Hankins’ Saracens hopes

Kelly Brown in action for Scotland. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images Kelly Brown in action for Scotland. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Thursday, February 13, 2014
6:00 AM

Matt Hankin admits that Kelly Brown’s situation with Scotland will have a big bearing on his chances of making further league outings for Saracens following his Premiership debut.

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Saracens' Matt Hankin. Pic: Matthew Impey/Wiredphotos.co.ukSaracens' Matt Hankin. Pic: Matthew Impey/Wiredphotos.co.uk

Hankin was shocked that Scotland dropped their captain, Brown, before their 20-0 defeat to England in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Unlike surplus to requirements England wing Chris Ashton, Brown didn’t return to Saracens and that allowed 20-year-old flanker Hankin to make his first top-flight appearance with a 13-minute cameo against London Irish last weekend.

But, with the Six Nations taking a break this weekend, Brown has been selected for Sarries’ trip to Sale Sharks tomorrow night – and Hankin admits the Scot’s standing at international level may affect his own fortunes at Allianz Park, going forward.

“It was a shame that Kelly wasn’t with Scotland, which was a bit of a shock when I found out,” Hankin said.

“It’s [now] down to our coaches and the Scotland set-up as to whether he needs game time or whether they [Scotland] want him back in for the next games coming up. It depends, where that leaves me, but I’ll find out.

“I’m hoping to be involved a bit more now the Six Nations internationals are underway. It’s always where I thought I might get more of a chance, so I hope to be involved in the next few games.

“We’ve got a few back rows away in Billy [Vunipola] and Kelly so it’s a good chance for me, especially after [playing in] the LV= Cup and putting in some performances there.

“It’s quite nice to know that the coaches have a bit of faith in me and are trying to push me for next season.

“Then there’s the World Cup [in 2015] so I’ll hope to get a bit more time and be even more involved.

“We’ve also got the LV= semi-final in the beginning of March so hopefully I can get a bit more game time in that and we can get a win over Northampton.”

Hankin’s delight at his Premiership debut was somewhat tempered by the fact that Saracens lost against London Irish – their first Premiership reverse at their Allianz Park home, which celebrates its one-year anniversary on Sunday.

The youngster, who scored in man-of-the-match Anglo-Welsh Cup debut against Scarlets in November, said: “I can’t really compare it to any other game. It was physical, quite fast and I tried to get a few carries and tackles to do what I could in the 13 minutes I had on the pitch. I really enjoyed it and I’ll hopefully be involved in a few more.

“Although the result wasn’t what we wanted as a team, I was pleased to get my first cap after a good bit of game time in the LV= Cup. It’s always good playing and training with those sorts of players.

“In the LV= Cup, Jacques [Burger] came on while I was on the pitch so it was good to learn from some of the best at the moment.

“They are ahead of me and I want to get more of a starting role in the Premiership so it’s a good place to learn from internationals that have been there for quite a while.”

Hankin, who won the Under-20 World Cup with England last summer, is now inelligble to feature in age group side’s Six Nations campaign, but it has focused his mind on club affairs, where he is banking on a run of appearances for Sarries that could one day lead to call-ups for the Red Rose senior sides.

“I’m too old now [for the U20s] so hopefully I can get involved in the next few years, but that obviously depends on whether I play a bit more in the Premiership and push on,” the forward said.

“Coming up through the age groups, there were always camps going on and I’d usually be away with those.

“That’s probably stopped now for a few years, hopefully until I can get involved with the Saxons or the seniors.

“You see a lot of players in my U20s age group that are playing a lot of Premiership and it’s paying off because they are getting involved with the Saxons and seniors.

“It’s happened quite sooner for them but hopefully in the future a few more of us can get involved.”

Sarries trio Mako Vunipola, Brad Barritt and Alex Goode are among 18 players that England have released back to their clubs and go straight into the starting XV to face Sale.

• Saracens play Harlequins in a London derby at Wembley Stadium on Saturday March 22 and over 60,000 tickets have already been sold for the Premiership match.

The last time these two sides played at Wembley it attracted a word record crowd for a club rugby match, with 83,761 attending the game and you can purchase tickets here.

• Saracens have also has announced that they have agreed a long-term association with CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives firm. CME Group’s logo will appear on the back of the Saracens playing jersey and at Allianz Park at one of the entrance gates renamed CME Group Gate.

Nigel Wray, Saracens chairman, said: “CME Group is an established global company with bold plans in Europe, and we are delighted they are joining our team. Rugby in general, and English club rugby in particular, has entered a phase of outstanding growth, and we are confident of delivering outstanding value.

“We have moved our commercial and sales teams into the City of London, and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with the CME Group, in whom we have found a kindred spirit.”

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