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Page last updated at 20:16 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Saracens players shocked at exits

Chris Jack
Chris Jack is one of the players told he will be leaving Saracens

Twelve of the 15 Saracens players axed by the Premiership club have spoken of their shock at the news.

All 12 players, who will leave at the end of the season, met lawyers from the Professional Rugby Players' Association on Friday to discuss their next move.

A players' spokesman said: "It has come as a massive shock to all of us.

"It is unsettling for everyone at the club. All 12 have agreed to fulfil their existing obligations in good faith, but under protest."

In all, 15 players have been told to go, including former All Black Chris Jack, Cencus Johnston and long-serving club men Kevin Sorrell and Ben Skirving.

The club is effectively controlled by a South African group, who also have a stake in provincial sides the Sharks and the Stormers in their home country.

Ex-Springbok Brendan Venter will become head coach at the end of the season and he is expected to bring players from those clubs.

The players' spokesman added: "We are seeking assurances that all payments and benefits due under the contracts will be met in full."

Damian Hopley, chief executive of the PRA, said the players were left devastated by the news.

"We do not see this breach as a reflection on their playing form or a cost-cutting exercise, as has been suggested," he said.

"This group are seeking a swift resolution to this distressing episode, so the squad can concentrate on pushing for Heineken Cup qualification for next season."


Hopley added that the axed players would find it hard to secure contracts elsewhere over the summer given that most clubs had already finalised their plans for next season.

"This is a very sad chapter in the history of such a famous club and has sent shockwaves through our membership," said Hopley.

"We will be fully backing these players and seeking to ensure that this is the last we see of mass redundancies in our game."

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see also
Saracens plan massive clear-out
25 Feb 09 |  Saracens
Saracens to stay at Vicarage Road
19 Feb 09 |  Saracens
Jones to take up post in Japan
09 Feb 09 |  Saracens

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