Saracens coach backs Mike Ellery to fill David Strettle’s boots ahead of London Irish clash

Saracens’ backs coach Kevin Sorrell believes winger Mike Ellery has the potential to fill David Strettle’s boots after scoring three tries in his first two games this season.

Strettle, who is Sarries’ all-time leading Premiership try-scorer, left Allianz Park in the summer to join French outfit Clermont Auvergne – and Ellery looks set to benefit from that move.

The 26-year-old touched down twice as Saracens started their title defence with a 41-3 home win over Sale Sharks, and he scored the only try of the match as the north London club earned a thrilling 17-15 victory away at Gloucester last Friday night.

Asked if Ellery can emulate the consistency of Strettle’s try-scoring prowess at Saracens, Sorrell said: “Certainly based on the first couple of games he’s shown that, yes. It’s only a start, he’s only two games in, but hopefully he’s got room for improvement in his game.

“We knew he had the potential to kick on from what he did last season. He was one of the ones that stood out in the A-League and the successful LV=Cup team, so he just needed a chance to get some exposure in the first team and with David Strettle moving on there was a space. We knew he’d be able to step up the plate and he’s done so very well.

“He’s a big man and he’s very quick so that’s always a good start point. He converted from sevens a couple of years back. Before that he played in the back row so he’s a very good carrier, very quick and good in the air. He’s a good work in progress.

“It’s a bit of an adjustment [from sevens] because the roles are massively different in terms of attacking. There’s a lot of space in sevens but then there’s a lot more awareness of your relationship with your full-back and your other winger in terms of the 15-a-side game, so it’s very different.”

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Ellery will have another opportunity to increase his tally as the early league leaders prepare for Saturday’s home game against basement boys London Irish.

The two sides have announced this week that the return fixture in March will be played in New York – the first Premiership match to be played overseas.

And, although Irish have lost their first two games and sit bottom of the fledgling table, Sorrell feels they have bright days ahead and insists there is no room for complacency this weekend.

“I think they’ve got an exciting new coaching set-up there [with Tom Coventry taking over as their new head coach],” he said. “The club’s going in a new direction and it’s an exciting era for them.

“They’ve announced the game against us that will be played in New York, so they’re looking to push the club on as a whole and I think the results will follow on the pitch. It’s going to be a tough game at the weekend.

“I don’t think you can read anything into the league positions after two games. You look at Chelsea in the Premier League – that’s not a fair reflection really, is it?”

Saracens’ match against London Irish kicks off at 1pm on Saturday, and the World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia will then be shown live on the big screens at Allianz Park at 4pm.