Who will fill Max Malins void wing position at Saracens?

The Saracens' Max Malins steps away from a Alex Dombrandt tackle on September 17, 2022

It was announced on Tuesday evening that Max Malins would return to Bristol for the 2023/24 season. He previously spent a season on loan there following Saracens’ relegation to the championship due to breaking the salary cap. The winger/fullback used his time at the Bears to break into the England team and establish himself as a top-class back three operator.

Since returning to Saracens, Malins has continued to be an incredible attacking threat, topping the try-scoring charts last season and helping Saracens to the Premiership final. The reduction in the salary cap though means that clubs are unable to keep all their stars and Saracens have had to let Malins go. Saracens have always been so good at replacing leaving talent either through their academy or by dipping into the market. So, how will the north London club replace their international winger?

Promoting from within

The Saracens academy has produced several world-class players over the years from George and Itoje in the pack to Farrell in the backline. However, the wing is a position that the club has yet to fully entrust to an academy graduate besides Malins. Since 2015, Maitland, Williams, Lewington, Strettle, and Daly have been signed instead. Some academy graduates have chosen to look elsewhere as a result. Crossdale is now at Wasps while Earle is at the Falcons via Harlequins where Morris still plays his rugby. With the lower, post-COVID, salary cap now in place, now might be the time to look to the academy though.

Rotimi Segun

A player who may be ready to step up and take Max Malins’ spot on the wing is Rotimi Segun. Blessed with pace, power, and great footwork, Segun has been in and around the Saracens 23 since November 2017. He has started in Premiership and European games and shown that he belongs at that level. His work on kick chase is exceptional and he has been banging on the door for a regular starting position for several years.

Ben Harris

Another high-quality option Saracens have in their squad already is Ben Harris. The former England Sevens player of the year joined in 2020 and scored on his debut for the club. His transition back to the 15-man game has been smooth as we have seen in Premiership Cup games since his return. His opportunities have been limited but he has shown great finishing ability and the potential to be a regular member of the first team in the future.

Alex Lewington

In addition, Alex Lewington is a player who has been in and around the Saracens’ setup for a while now without nailing down a spot on the wing when everyone is fit and available. A prolific try scorer, Lewington has started every match this season with Maitland and Goode out injured. Lewington spent time with the Leicester Tigers and the London Irish before joining Saracens and has since made over 80 appearances for the men in black. Could the departure of Malins be the opportunity he needs to nail down a spot on the wing?

Recruiting from outside

Max Malins’ departure could see the Saracens’ back three go through a complete makeover in the next offseason. As well as the departing academy graduate Maitland may choose to retire while Goode may also hang up his boots or possibly return to Japan. This leaves Daly as the only first-choice back three option remaining at the club and he is often seen at centre. This means that the Saracens may choose to dip into the transfer market. Here are some of the players who may be looked at.

Adam Radwan

The Newcastle Falcons flyer is off contract at the end of the season and could be the ideal replacement. Saracens’ new brand of attack rugby this season could see Radwan with far more try-scoring opportunities than he is used to in the Northeast. Moreover, Radwan has proved he is a threat at the highest level with a hat-trick against Canada on his international debut and a further score against Tonga later that year. Radwan would add a new dimension to Saracens’ attack too with his ability to beat defenders one on one.

The are a couple of issues with this signing though. Firstly, as one of their best players, Newcastle will do everything they can to keep their winger. On top of that, the Saracens will not be the only club looking to sign a player of that quality so the Londoners will need to beat others to his signature. Finally, Radwan and Malins are different styles of winger and Radwan does not offer the versatility of Malins so Saracens need to decide if he is the right fit.

Tom Parton

The London Irish back has fallen behind Henry Arundell in recent months and so may be tempted to look for game time elsewhere. Tom Parton and Max Malins played together at England under 20s level with Malins at 10 and Parton at 15. Parton has been called up to the England squad but is yet to make his debut. He is a player with a very similar style of play to the departing Malins with a wonderful counterattack ability.

More commonly a fullback, Parton does have some experience on the wing so offers that versatility other options may lack. The big issue Saracens may see with Parton though is his injury record. He is yet to play this season and this is his second major injury in the last year. As such Saracens will be wary of such a promising investment.

Anthony Watson

Likely the most expensive of the options listed here, Watson would represent a real coup for the Saracens. Having represented England and the British and Irish Lions, Watson would add huge experience to this Saracens outfit. The former Bath winger, who can play fullback too, is currently at Leicester trying to win back his England spot. Watson, 28, is in the prime of his career and may see himself squeezed out of Leicester as they try to retain all their young talent who will need more lucrative contracts. He could do far worse than land himself at another club competing for titles.

The Saracens’ will be tested without Max Malins

There is no doubt that Max Malins is a talented rugby player and Saracens will miss him. The financial situation of rugby right now though means Saracens’ loss is Bristol’s gain and the London club must find a way to replace him. How they do that will be up to the management. There may yet be a name that emerges who is not on this list. The one good thing though is that the Saracens’ academy is dependable and has produced several world-class players in the past. If not, there are players Saracens can possibly recruit that plays for other teams.

 

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