Search

Wray hails strength of Saracens squad ahead of Premiership clash at Gloucester

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:22 22 October 2015

Saracens' Jackson Wray

Saracens' Jackson Wray

EMPICS Sport

Jackson Wray says this is the strongest squad Saracens have had during his time at the club, and that the reigning champions showed their strength in depth in Saturday’s home win over Sale.

Sarries were missing a number of internationals due to their World Cup exertions as they kicked off their Premiership campaign at Allianz Park, but they thumped the Sharks 41-3 at Allianz Park.

Wray, who came through the club’s academy before making his debut in 2009, told Ham&High Sport: “The first game of the season’s always a tough one, to gauge where you are, especially with the World Cup being on and players being away for long periods. It was always going to be an interesting game but I felt we dealt with a lot of the areas that we focused on really well.

“Our squad is looking really strong this year. We’ve always had good cover in most positions and this year’s no different. I think we’re even stronger than we have been in the past. That’s played a big part - people putting their hand up, ready to play. I think you saw some really good performances at the weekend, and there were a lot of examples of people doing just that.

“Is this the best squad during my time at Saracens? For sure, definitely. You’re looking around the squad and looking out at training and there are just so many good players at the moment. Training’s so competitive and that only brings out the best in the squad and in the team that’s going out at the weekend.

“We’ve got real depth in most positions and that only works for the benefit of the team, with people pushing each other for places. It’s a really competitive squad and that’s what we need in this intense season that we’re starting.”

Wray wore the number eight shirt against Sale and is keen to have a run in the side. The absence of Billy Vunipola, who suffered a knee injury in England’s World Cup defeat to Wales, increases his chances - and he has kept his place for tomorrow’s (Friday’s) trip to face Gloucester - but the 24-year-old is aware he has plenty of other rivals.

“Billy did really well in the World Cup and it was a shame for him that it got cut short,” he said. “He was one of England’s best players, in my opinion anyway, and I think they could have gone further with him in the team.

“It’s not just Billy though, we’ve got so many good players – Kelly Brown, Jacques Burger, Will Fraser, Matt Hankin. It’s a really competitive position and that’s good. As players you want to be in the top teams, and the top teams always have great squads. It’s all about playing as well as you can when you get the opportunity.

“I just want to keep improving my game, like I did last year. There were a lot of areas which I was pleased with.

“I wanted to get off to a better start this year, I wanted to play on a regular basis and have a big impact and make a difference to the team and then play in those big European games that are coming up against Toulouse and Ulster [on November 14 and 20]. They’re massive games and you’ve got Northampton [on November 7] there in that area of games too so it’s a big period coming up.

“I want to try to break into the international set-up as well and be involved there. Most young players in England want to play for England and I’ve no problem saying that, I think everyone’s the same.”

Saracens are now preparing to visit Gloucester tomorrow night. The West Country outfit won the corresponding fixture 24-23 last season, thanks to a last-minute 50m penalty kick from James Hook – and they started their campaign with a 39-27 away win against Newcastle last Friday.

“Gloucester are a very tough team down there - Kingsholm’s a very hard place to go,” said Wray. “Over the years we’ve had some really good performances down there and then a couple of not so good ones, so it’s a very mixed ground for us, but it’s always a tough place to go – especially on a Friday night. Something’s a little bit different.

“It’s always a great atmosphere down there anyway but I think even more so on a Friday night. There’s a little bit more of an edge. You really know you’re going down into a really hostile environment and you have to be on your game if you’re going to get anything from it.

“It’s definitely a big occasion and we’re the title winners and they’re going to be wanting to put down a marker after winning at Newcastle.”

Saracens’ schedule means Wray will be free to watch both of the World Cup semi-finals on Saturday and Sunday, and he hopes the interest in the tournament will filter through into the club game.

“I think it’s a bit early for that at the moment,” he said. “Obviously the World Cup’s still going on. Granted England aren’t in the latter stages, which is unfortunate - and I think the impact would have been a lot higher if England had gone further - but the competition’s still going and people are supporting other nations.

“There’s no doubt it’s brought a great exposure to the game. I think we might see the benefits of that, though, after the World Cup. People might think ‘we really enjoyed that, we’ll probably go and watch our local side play’. That’s how we might find it.

“Now it’s about the Premiership taking over the mantle and I think with the reputation of the league and the way it’s shaping up to be this season… There will be a lot of teams in with a shout, which makes it exciting, which helps with the viewing and the exposure that the sport’s gained over the last few months - and that would be great. It’s up to the Premiership now to really push on and build on that exposure.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Arsenal’s 2017 FA Cup winning manager Arsene Wenger has said lifting the famous old trophy at Wembley today is one of the highlights of his long career.

Arsenal have won the 2017 FA Cup Final after beating Chelsea 2-1 in a tremendous game that will live long in the memory at Wembley this afternoon.

Fri, 09:56

And so we arrive at our last stop of a rather bumpy season, the FA Cup Final. Wembley will once again see the Gunners grace its hallowed turf, but this time with a weight of questions hanging over just about everybody and everything at the club.

Fri, 08:33

Our Friday Fanzone Q&A returns ahead of the FA Cup Final. This week we have huge old school fan and loyal Gooner ‘Geoff Arsenal’. Read on for his views...

Fri, 07:38

On Monday it dawned on me it was the FA Cup Final this Saturday. As a long-standing Arsenal season ticket holder who will be at Wembley I started to get excited about the game after a long season, and was already reliving the high and lows of every final in the competition that I’ve been to.

Thu, 17:30

Hosts to be led by three-man team on pitch this summer

Thu, 14:39

Read former Gunners legend Manu Petit’s view on all things Arsenal and the FA Cup Final as he talks to online betting, poker and casino site bwin...

PROMOTED CONTENT

Often one of the most daunting parts of going through a divorce or separation is knowing what steps to take first and how to deal with financial issues which arise. Here, Jessica Palmer of Streathers Solicitors in Hampstead, offers answers to commonly asked questions

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now