Wasps, Leicester the lead candidates to end Sarries dominance

The 2015-16 season undoubtedly belonged to Saracens as they conquered all at home and abroad to clinch a Premiership and European Champions Cup double.

Sarries are favourites to defend the title they won thanks to a hard-fought 28-20 victory over Exeter Chiefs in May.

But four months on there is plenty of change in the Premiership with the likes of Wasps and Leicester Tigers adding star quality in a bid to dethrone Mark McCall's men.



Domestically, Sarries have been the dominant force for the past two seasons, winning the Premiership in 2015 and 2016.

McCall's men have been criticised at times for being a direct, one-dimensional team, but the acquisition of Fiji powerhouse Savenaca Rawaca - fresh off winning a rugby sevens gold medal at Rio 2016 - may provide another level.

His addition to a side already boasting the likes of Owen Farrell, Alex Goode, Maro Itoje and Vunipola brothers Billy and Mako makes Sarries arguably even more formidable, as does the the arrival of South Africa back-rower Schalk Burger.



Since relocating to Coventry, Wasps have gone from strength to strength and they were losing semi-finalists last season.

They have gone all out to bolster their options this term in a bid to end an eight-year wait for a Premiership title.

Danny Cipriani's return to his first club adds star quality at 10, while in Australia's Kurtley Beale and South Africa's Willie Le Roux Wasps have signed two top-class international imports.

England star Kyle Edmund also adds to a backline containing Elliot Daly, Christian Wade and Joe Simpson.



Wasps are not the only ones to have added international stars, with Leicester recruiting well to bring in Australia's Matt Toomua and Springbok JP Pietersen.

But perhaps the biggest boost to a Tigers side aiming to re-establish themselves as the dominant force in English rugby is a fully-fit Manu Tuilagi.

The powerhouse England centre has been plagued by injuries over the past two years, but he started his comeback in 2015 and, after a full pre-season, Tuilagi will be like a new signing for the Tigers.



A disappointing ninth-place finish after a run to the 2014-15 Premiership final saw Mike Ford lose his job as Bath coach.

But Todd Blackadder inherits a talented squad that has been improved by the arrival of 61-cap Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau.

Northampton Saints missed out on the top four last season, but have made arguably the signing of the close-season in Louis Picamoles and the France number eight should adress their trouble of getting over the gain line.

Sale Sharks have ambitious new owners and the shrewd signings of Mike Phillips and rugby league convert Josh Charnley should offset the loss of Cipriani and Chris Cusiter.

Exeter pushed Sarries all the way in the final and have kept the majority of their team together. Expectations at home and abroad have grown and with more of their stars earning England recognition, sustaining a challenge may prove difficult.

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