Liam Williams likely to have played last game for Saracens as club plan player exodus to meet salary cap

Wales full-back has not played this season and director of rugby Mark McCall admits it is possible that he will leave for the Scarlets before the end of the season as the club cuts back on wages

Duncan Bech
Wednesday 08 January 2020 10:15
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Saracens rocked by 35-point deduction and £5m fine for breaking salary cap rules

Liam Williams may have already played his final game for Saracens, with the Lions star likely to join Scarlets before the end of the season.

Williams has signed for the Welsh region for the 2019-20 campaign but the double winners are looking to expedite his departure in the wake of the salary cap scandal that is forcing them to trim their wage bill.

Saracens were docked 35 points and fined £5.36m after being found to have breached the £7m limit in each of the last three seasons.

Interim chief executive Edward Griffiths has revealed that players may need to be offloaded or wages cuts to comply with the cap for the current season.

Eddie Jones' England stars appear to be safe after director of rugby Mark McCall revealed that older players or those whose contracts are ending in June will be targeted.

Williams' deal to join Scarlets in the summer was announced on Boxing Day but it is understood the Wales full-back, who is currently out with an ankle injury, is now destined to leave ahead of schedule.

When asked if Williams could join Scarlets before the end of the season, McCall said: "I'd say there is a possibility.

"It was Liam's decision first up that he was going to go back to the Scarlets, back to Wales, and that was for family reasons.

"We understood that completely and we don't regret, and he doesn't regret, him coming to Saracens. We don't regret bringing him to Saracens, he has been brilliant.

"He was always going to go back to Wales regardless of the salary cap decision."

If, as expected, Williams returns to Scarlets ahead of schedule, his final game for Saracens will have been the 2019 Premiership final when he was a try-scorer in a dramatic comeback win over Exeter at Twickenham.

The 28-year-old suffered an ankle injury in training that ruled him out of the World Cup semi-final defeat to South Africa and he has not played since.

"Liam might be fit for the Six Nations, but I don't think he will be fit for us before the Six Nations," McCall said.

"It is not ideal. He hasn't played a game for us this season. That's not his fault."

McCall will play a crucial role in any additional reductions made to the squad size and his priority is to ensure they are handled sensitively.

"If any changes are required then I'll be fully involved in those decisions," McCall said.

"This group have been through a hell of a lot together anyway and they need to see that any player is treated as well as you can treat them in these situations and no one feels like they are squeezed out or anything like that.

Saracens' England players are believed to be safe (Reuters)

"We've got to make sure we do anything that needs to be done really well, and I am sure we will. We are hoping it won't be too cold.

"If anything has to happen it will be to players who will be coming towards the end of their careers or their contract ends in four months' time.

"Ideally that's what would happen and we need to make sure those players leave the club amicably and on good terms, not on bad terms.

"I am really desperate for that to be the case because they have given the club a lot in the time they have been here.

"It is tricky, of course it is tricky, and it is not ideal but if something needs to be done, it needs to be done and we will do it as well as we can."

PA

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