TEAM NEWS | La Rochelle v Saracens Men (ECC - QF)
Maro Itoje says it is a special privilege to be involved in Sunday’s huge Heineken Champions Cup Quarter Final as Saracens head to take on La Rochelle at Stade Marcel Deflandre.
Sarries will face the Reigning Champions on the Atlantic Coast, and Itoje has challenged the squad to ensure that the occasion brings the best out of them with a place in the last four at stake.
Director of Rugby Mark McCall has made one change to the starting line-up from the side that beat the Ospreys last weekend, with Nick Isiekwe replacing Andy Christie in the back-row after the Scotland international broke his arm in the Round of 16 clash.
Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Marco Riccioni have a huge test ahead of them in the front-row, and will have Itoje and Hugh Tizard behind them in the second-row to provide plenty of ballast to the set-piece.
Isiekwe comes in and adds more size to the pack, and he will be alongside in-form Ben Earl and Billy Vunipola in the back-row.
Ivan van Zyl will make his 50th appearance for the club at scrum-half, lining up once again next to captain Owen Farrell.
Nick Tompkins and Alex Lozowski will be looking to bring some creativity to the midfield, and the back-three of Sean Maitland, Max Malins and Alex Goode will need to bring the clinical edge to the side in France.
On the bench Callum Hunter-Hill makes his long-awaited return from injury after suffering a knee injury in the win over Lyon before Christmas, and Duncan Taylor will be looking for more of the same after his try-scoring display against the Ospreys.
Itoje is excited to head to a place where Saracens have never played before.
“I hear it’s an amazing environment. To be taking on the current holders is incredibly exciting and it will be a great occasion, one that we are very much looking forward to.
You can’t take these moments for granted, knockout rugby is a special privilege and we know we’re playing a very good team but we need to make sure the occasion brings the best out of us.”
Saracens Men team to play La Rochelle:
1 Mako Vunipola
2 Jamie George
3 Marco Riccioni
4 Maro Itoje
5 Hugh Tizard
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 Ben Earl
8 Billy Vunipola
9 Ivan van Zyl
10 Owen Farrell (c)
11 Sean Maitland
12 Nick Tompkins
13 Alex Lozowski
14 Max Malins
15 Alex Goode
16 Tom Woolstencroft
17 Eroni Mawi
18 Christian Judge
19 Callum Hunter-Hill
20 Jackson Wray
21 Aled Davies
22 Duncan Taylor
23 Alex Lewington