Thu, Feb 26, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Saracens set for big shakeup: BBC


All Black great Chris Jack is set to be released along with 14 of his Saracens teammates and will be replaced by mainly South African players, the BBC said on Tuesday.

According to the BBC, incoming South African head coach Brendan Venter — the defense coach at Super 14 side the Stormers and who will effectively replace former Australia coach Eddie Jones — informed the players on Monday, though, the club would not confirm that was the case.

“It would be completely inappropriate for the club to make any specific comment on these private meetings,” the club said in a statement. “Many of the players were enthused and excited by what they heard; inevitably, some were disappointed.”

Saracens are largely run by a group of South African investors who also have a stake in provincial sides the Sharks and the Stormers in their home country. It is believed that the players who have been told they will not be retained will be replaced largely by players from those two Super 14 squads.

The English Premiership club did add that they were trying to help the players sort out their futures.

“The club is already working with the various players’ agents and the PRA [Professional Rugby Players’ Association] to assist in securing their futures, and, without exception, the club will act decently and honestly,” the statement said.

“This has been a difficult week, but the reality is that Saracens is not immune to the economic realities being faced by many companies across the country,” it said.

Jones, who acted as a special consultant for the 2007 World Cup winning South Africans, announced on Feb. 9 that he would not be staying on after the end of the season for “personal reasons” despite holding a three year contract and having been in the post for just a year.

Venter, a former Springbok international, has previous experience in England having coached London Irish.

Jack, who won 67 caps for the All Blacks till joining Saracens midway through the 2007-2008 campaign, has made 25 appearances for the club scoring three tries for them.

The 30-year-old lock enjoyed a successful career with the Canterbury Crusaders, being named Super 12 player of the year in 2002 and New Zealand player of the season in the same year.

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