Bermuda bound: Lee Mears in action during a 42-cap England career. The former hooker will manage a Select XV against a touring Saracens side in June at the National Sports Centre stadium. *AFP photo
Bermuda bound: Lee Mears in action during a 42-cap England career. The former hooker will manage a Select XV against a touring Saracens side in June at the National Sports Centre stadium. *AFP photo

Former England and Lions hooker Lee Mears will lead a star-studded Bermuda Select XV when they take on Premiership side Saracens at the National Sports Centre stadium on June 8.

Mears, who spent his whole career at Bath and also won 42 caps for England and toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009, will manage a team that will contain the likes of Nick Easter, Olly Barkley, Mark Cueto, Shane Geraghty, Marc Jones and Martin Castrogiovanni.

Mears steps in for last year’s manager Lewis Moody, who is unable to attend, but will not be on the field after retiring from playing last year following  the discovery of a heart condition. The exhibition match is the finale for the Saracens fundraising tour, which includes coaching clinics in schools, a golf day and a corporate touch rugby event among other activities.

Mears, 35, is fresh off the front line, having worked with England during the recently-concluded Six Nations in which they  came second to Ireland.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “I’m massively looking forward to coming to Bermuda. Anytime you get the opportunity to play the game abroad it’s amazing — and I’ve heard a lot about the place!”

Mears joked that his fledgling coaching reputation is ‘on the line’ when he comes to the island but he remains confident of putting out a team capable of giving high-flying Sarries a run for their money.

“We want to put on a good performance and raise awareness of the charities,” he said. “We’ll get everyone together — we are competitive animals and they will buy into the game and they will want to put on a good performance and win.”

He added: “It’s a case of putting them all on the same page as quickly as possible and putting on a good show.”

Mears believes his squad, which will contain a number of young local players but also boasts over 400 international caps, will stand a better chance against the likes of Jacques Burger, Steve Borthwick and Matt Stevens if they make the game ‘frantic’.

Mears said: “Saracens are definitely the top side at the moment. They are good in defensive and good on the break — probably the standout side in the Premiership and the boys will have to be on their mettle.

“It’ll be a good game. They play an attractive style of rugby and we’ll want to start well and get points on the board.

“They will be organized so the more frantic and disruptive we make it the better.

“Their back row is as good as anyone in the world but we’ll have a good front row as well — I’m just glad I won’t be going up against them!”

The genial Mears has one big aim: to entertain the Bermuda crowd. And he’s clear about what he will bring to the Select XV’s mindset. The stocky 5ft 9in Englishman said: “I bring my huge stature and my intimidating nature!

“I just think I’ve always played the game with a smile on my face and my coaching philosophy is to enjoy it as much as possible. When you get the chance to come to a beautiful country and put on an exciting game it makes it even easier.” 

Bermuda Select XV confirmed players: Paul Doran Jones (Quins and England); Marc Jones (Sale and Wales); Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon and Italy); Eifion Lewis Roberts (Sale); Nick Kennedy (Quins and England); Robert Sidoli (Dragons and Wales); Anton Van Zyl (Stade Fr); Thomas Waldrom (Leicester/Exeter and England); Julian Salvi (Leicester and Australia A); Nick Easter (Quins and England); Richie Rees (Dragons and Wales); Olly Barkley (Scarlets and England); Mark Cueto (Sale and England); Horacio Agulla (Bath and Argentina); Ross Curle (Glasgow); Shane Geraghty (London Irish and England); Tom Biggs (Bath); Will Harries (Dragons and Wales).