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Saracens fan Ben Ireland predicts international futures for Jamie George, George Kruis and Billy Vunipola
Last Saturday was a satisfying way to begin the new season for Saracens - an expectedly rusty performance in places, but what will go down as a five-point away win.
For me, it was the physicality that impressed most: relentless, and at times brutal.
Excitingly, three of the biggest contributors to that dominance were three young English players: Jamie George, George Kruis, and Billy Vunipola. By those standards, all three could taste international honours sooner rather than later.
Hooker George has had to master the art of patience in the last two years. The coaches have always talked up his potential, but he has had to sit behind the likes of Schalk Brits and John Smit. In terms of game time and consistency of performance, this season has a make-or-break feel to it.
Happily he now finds himself as an outright second-choice - and with Brits suspended, he was able to start the season with the starting shirt. And he took the opportunity with aplomb - two tries and a man-of-the-match award.
His abrasiveness was noticeable in his tackling and carrying - and that was combined with a good set-piece return, and a very comfortable look in the wider channels (almost à la Brits).
But in terms of dominating the collisions, Kruis and Billy Vunipola were perhaps even more impressive.
Every time I see Kruis, he seems both bulkier and fitter. Not only has he become competent in leading lineouts and restarts, but he is now one of the most powerful second-rows in the country.
Every single tackle he made against Irish was an offensive one; every ruck he hit felt the impact. I'm convinced he will be an England player very soon - and as close as you can get to a first-choice player at Saracens.
Similarly, Billy Vunipola's debut showed what a force he might become this season - slimmer, fitter, seemingly better disciplined than last year, but with no let-up in his ferocious carrying game.
More than his ability to break the advantage line, he can do so while committing numerous defenders, and retaining the ball. Given the importance of forward momentum, Vunipola is a huge asset to his side.
With those three setting the tone, hopefully this season will see the Sarries forwards dominate all their opposition...
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