Saracens’ Alex Lozowski has made a flying start as he prepares to face former club Wasps
PUBLISHED: 14:25 03 October 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Alex Lozowski had a rather special day on Friday. First he was named as one of seven uncapped players in Eddie Jones’ 45-man England elite player squad ahead of next month’s Autumn internationals – and then a few hours later he delivered an imperious performance in Saracens’ victory over Bristol.
The in-form fly-half touched down twice as Sarries triumphed 39-0 at Ashton Gate and secured the bonus point, leaving them just three points behind Premiership leaders Wasps.
The top two teams go head to head at Allianz Park this weekend – and Lozowski will be keen to maintain his impressive form as he comes up against his former club.
The 23-year-old came to Saracens to replace Charlie Hodgson, and he has immediately looked at home with the Premiership and European champions. His ability to perform so well so quickly is a testament to the coaching staff and the environment in Hendon.
Lozowki was the man of the match on his debut against Worcester in the opening game of the season, and he has gone from strength to strength since then.
While Sarries stumbled collectively in their defeat to Harlequins at the Stoop, their No10 was back to his skilful best in Bristol on Friday, commanding a reshuffled back line and getting over the whitewash either side of the break to help his side secure maximum points.
Lozowski has now scored four tries, seven penalties, six conversions and a drop goal, giving him a tally of 56 points in total. Only Wasps’ Jimmy Gopperth (81) and Bath’s George Ford (62) have contributed more in the Premiership.
When Owen Farrell is fit, director of rugby Mark McCall will have a selection dilemma – and one he will relish.
Sarries have two highly capable fly-halves who are adept at controlling the game, putting points on the board and turning defence into attack – and yet they are usefully different. Farrell plays a little flatter to get over the gain line, while Lozowski allows himself a little more depth, giving him time for decision-making and more awareness of where defensive frailties lie.
He has already struck up a strong partnership with captain and centre Brad Barritt, whose strike running is so valuable, and McCall will have different tactical options when both players are available as he seeks to get the best from Sarries’ back line.
Saracens’ boss will also be pleased not to be relying on one player at No10 as the international fixtures begin to loom on the horizon – strength in depth is all-important when key players are called up to represent their country.
Lozowski’s England call-up therefore complicates the picture a little. However, even if Farrell remains sidelined, Ford is ahead of him in the pecking order, and he revealed last week that he has an agreement with Saracens “that I would cover during the international periods”.
That will give him time to continue to cement his place in Farrell’s absence – whether his team-mate is still in the treatment room or on international duty – and develop his talents.
He is certainly in the right place. Saracens have a long tradition of developing and nurturing fly-halves. Glen Jackson and Hodgson both had stellar careers with the club, and 25-year-old Farrell seems to be following a similar trajectory. Lozowski also has plenty of time on his side and, judging by his recent performances, he has a long and distinguished career ahead of him.
For now, though, he must focus on Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash – and show Wasps what they have lost.
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