WELCOME TO THE CLUB - ELLIOT DALY
September 9 2019
Elliot Daly is probably the highest profile of Saracens’ new signings this season, and possibly also the hardest to understand. He is a utility back but for England at least, has made his name at 15 – a position where Saracens already have 2 of the best in the world in Alex Goode & Liam Williams. He is also favoured by Eddie so will not be providing cover during the International season but he is undoubtedly a talented player and his renowned boot will go some way to replace that of Marcello “Bosch Bosch Bosch”.
Born in Croydon in 1992 (god that makes me feels old – he’s younger than both of my daughters!) he started playing rugby at the age of 5. He attended Cumnor House School, a Prep school in Croydon before moving on to Whitgift, an Independent secondary school with a record for producing sportsmen including Danny Cipriani, Marlon Yarde & Jason Roy. Along with Cipriani, Daly helped his school to victory in the Under 18 Cup at Twickenham in 2010 & 20111. Not content with Rugby, he was also a decent cricketer (a fast bowling all rounder), good enough to represent his country at Under 15 level and for Surrey to be interested in his signature. He joined Wasps Elite Player development Squad then moved on to the Wasps Academy. He represented England at U16 and U 18.
His Wasp’s debut was at Centre in the Anglo-Welsh Cup against Exeter Chiefs in 2010 while still in his final year at school and the following month he made his Premiership debut for Wasps against Bath. During the 2010-11 season he made 6 appearances for Wasps, starting as he was to go on by playing at centre, wing and full-back. He also spent a few weeks on loan to London Scottish representing them twice & scoring a try. Having played in the victorious England U 20’s grand-slam winning team, he reached a World Cup Final (albeit Junior) that summer losing 33-22 to New Zealand. He did get the chance to play alongside 2 of his future team mates Owen Farrell & Mako Vunipola. During his 8 starts he scored 8 tries so not a bad record!
He quickly established himself in the Wasps side, playing for them 192 times and scoring 42 tries. He also scored a couple of drop goals, conversions and penalties. His penalty stats are, at first sight, not great, landing 49 out of 83 however when you consider that most of those were from on or around the half way line, it looks a lot better. His longest successful kick was from 59m against Bayonne at Adams Park. In 2013 he was called up to the England Saxons before making it to the England Training Squad for the 2015 World Cup. He didn’t make the team then but the following January he was in the England squad for the 6 Nations making his debut from the bench against Ireland (and replacing Faz at inside centre). His first start came that autumn against South Africa, this time alongside Faz at outside centre (I said he was versatile!) He also kicked his first trade-mark international penalty. He scored his first International try the following week against Fiji but sadly things were rather less promising the week after when he was given a red card for a tackle in the air against Argentina’s Leonardo Senatore. He played in the 6 nations the following year, once again rotating around the back-line and scoring the winning try against Wales in Cardiff.
His performances won him a call-up to the British and Irish Lions team for the tour of New Zealand that summer. He featured in all 3 tests, being part of the fantastic try scored in the first test by Sean O’Brien. He played for the entirety of the 2nd test (which the Lions won) and scored a penalty in the final exciting test which was drawn along with the series. Interestingly he is one of the few players to have scored both for and against the Lions (in 2013 he played for the Barbarians against the Lions in Hong Kong, kicking a penalty).
Daly has scored 12 tries for England so far. He is, of course, an intricate member of Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad heading for Japan in the next few weeks. Eddie sees him as a full back although I very much doubt if Saracens do.
The worst-kept secret in rugby was confirmed in February this year when it was announced that Daly was leaving Wasps to join Saracens. There was much speculation as to why. Daly said all the right things:-
"I believe it is the right time in my career to explore a fresh challenge The opportunity to do that with Saracens really excites me, it's a fantastic club who have had a lot of success in recent seasons. That's something that I want to be a part of."
Daly triggered an early-release clause in his contract to allow him to move. The rumour-mill was at full tilt. Wasps was not a happy ship and the “rats” were leaving fast. There was a suggestion that Wasps hadn’t delivered on a promise to produce a new training ground. However Wasps DOR Dai Young suggested that the deal wasn’t motivated by money.
“We did everything we could. You can only do what you can do, there's lots of things that have been written and most of it is rubbish as normal. He certainly hasn't gone to Sarries for less money that's one thing. It isn't a massive money decision. He's not that way inclined but nobody moves for pay cuts or the same money. You can take that out of the equation. He's moved to play for a new challenge and to play for a club that's been pretty successful over the past few seasons and there is an attraction moving back to London as well. That's where he is from and his girlfriend. They're comfortable there, but first and foremost it's a rugby and he felt he needed a new challenge”
Daly is big mates with many of the Saracens’ England boys, especially Jamie George, and it is rumoured that their tales of life at Saracens were also a big factor in Daly deciding to move. But he knows he may have a bigger battle winning a starting place for his new club than for his country.
“I’m under no illusions, I’m going to have to play exceptionally well to get into that team – and that’s the challenge, that’s what I want to try and do. I’ll have to be on my best form because they’ve got internationals everywhere, but that’s one of the main driving forces behind me going there. Thirteen is where I’m looking to play and I’d love to play outside Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Nick Tompkins and all those boys. It’s part of the attraction if Saracens see me there but I play other positions as well and nothing is for granted. With the way Loz is playing at 13, Alex Goode at 15 and all the quality wingers they’ve got, for me it will just be a battle getting into the team. But there are a lot of England boys there who I get on well with and the way they go about their business is always very professional. They want to be the best they can be, which is great to see, and hopefully I can add something to Saracens.”
But first there is a little matter of a world cup in Japan. We wish him, and all his team-mates, well, (and please come back in one bit!)pqs: qs:
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