Four head to the door at Saracens

Fixture congestion and player burn-out are issues that have dominated headlines in recent weeks, but spare a thought for those performers at the opposite end of the spectrum – players like Ben Russell, Tomas de Vedia and Tevita Vaikona who have all decided to quit Saracens in the hope of more game-time elsewhere.

The trio are joined at the exit-door by former Ireland and Lions hooker Shane Byrne who has also decided to draw down the curtain on his time at Vicarage Road.

But whilst the 35-year-old returns home to concentrate on his burgeoning construction business, the other three leavers are simply tired of kicking their heels.

Tonga wing Vaikona has played only 809 minutes of first-class rugby this season and Argentina ‘A’ wing De Vedia has played just 626 minutes – both men seemingly paying the price for the form shown by the likes of Dan Scarbrough, Rodd Penney and Kameli Ratuvou.

Russell – who has played for England at U18, U19 and U21 level – has played just 477 minutes of first-team rugby his term, and the loose forward admits that leaving the club he joined at the age of 14 was “a very tough decision” to make.

“Shane, Ben, Tomas and Tevita have all contributed a great deal to the club and we wish them every success,” said Saracens boss Alan Gaffney.

“It’s always a difficult time of the year as players move on the pastures new, but things do move on.

“We are always looking to improve the strength of the squad and we hope to be in a position to announce some new signings within the next few weeks.”

The good news for fans of the Fez Men is that Ratuvou has signed a contract extension that keeps him at the club until 2010.

The 23-year-old Fiji wing joined the Men In Black in September and a scoring rate of a try every other game has made him a huge hit in only his first season with the club.

“Kameli has enjoyed a terrific season so far and we’re thrilled he has agreed to commit his future to the club,” said Gaffney.

“He is an exceptional talent, something he has not only proved in the Guinness Premiership this season but also on the world stage with Fiji and the Pacific Islands.

“In many ways, our decision to bring him to the club could have been seen as a bit of gamble, but he was highly recommended by both Simon Raiwalui and Moses Rauluni who had played with him for Fiji and they were correct in their judgment.

“When he joined us, in his first training session, it only took him about 30 seconds to do something special and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s an exciting player and I believe he will get even better.”

Ratuvou said: “I’m very happy here and feel very settled and am really looking forward to the rest of this season. I feel I have improved a great deal as a player and was happy to extend my deal.”

365 Digital

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