LONG-SERVING Saracens wing Chris Wyles is confident that the club’s large Lions contingent will not suffer from a post-tour hangover and will play another big part in the campaign ahead.
Saracens supplied more players to the cause than any other Aviva Premiership outfit, with forwards Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, George Kruis, Maro Itoje joined by Owen Farrell while new signing Liam Williams also played a starring role.
In 2013, star tourists such as Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs pinned the blame for their poor club form on an extended summer workload but Wyles, who is about to embark on his 10th season with the club, said: “It can only be a positive that the guys are getting all these experiences.
“They have been playing and competing against the best team in the world and have done really well. If we get the balance right in terms of rest I’m sure that they will feel super-excited about another club season.
“The fact that Jamie George, for example, has started for the Lions, before he’s even started for England, can only be of benefit.
“I’ve always found that all through all their England success – and I am sure it will be the same with the Lions, the guys are always motivated to come back and perform for the team because Sarries is where it all began for them.”
Wyles, right, feels motivation will not be problem for any of the men in black following last season’s heart-breaking Premiership final loss to Exeter.
“It has probably galvanised the squad again. It was amazing to win the European Cup again but I think we all left last season thinking that we hadn’t achieved in a way because of that defeat to Exeter. We’re going to be pretty fired up,” said Wyles.
“The culture is in place to make sure the club keeps on moving in the right direction and that the hunger is still there. I don’t see there being any let up in that sense.”
Former USA international Wyles, 33, believes that his country’s early qualification for the 2019 World Cup will be massively beneficial to them in their preparations for the tournament in Japan.
For the first time, the Eagles will head to the game’s flagship event as Americas 1 after a 52-16 demolition job on border rivals Canada.
“It was awesome to watch the side play some good rugby, score some great tries and win so convincingly,” said the 54-cap international.
“In normal circumstances, we’d be preparing for a home and away qualifier later in the year against Uruguay and that adds stress to the group in terms of making sure that is the key focus. Now they’ll be able to use this summer to get some young players involved and start planning. To have two years’ preparation time will make a massive difference.”
The USA have a terrible 3-22 record across seven tournaments, and have never beaten a major rugby-nation at a World Cup. And with USA joining England, France, Argentina and Samoa or Tonga in Pool C in Japan, it will be a tall order for the Eagles to improve that record.
But Wyles said: “The encouraging thing is that USA Rugby are trying to make steps forward. The sport in the US just needs more funding.”
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