TEAM NEWS | Saracens Men v Sale Sharks
Director of Rugby Mark McCall says his side are heading in to an exciting block of matches ahead of the return of the Gallagher Premiership this weekend.
Saracens Men welcome Sale Sharks to StoneX Stadium on Sunday afternoon and will be looking to hit the ground running once again after the two-week break for the Premiership Rugby Cup.
The Men in Black are boosted by the return of four players from the Autumn Nations Series, with Vincent Koch, Maro Itoje, Nick Tompkins and Max Malins all going straight back in to the starting XV after heading back from international duty earlier in the week.
Mako Vunipola and Ethan Lewis join Koch in the front-row, with Itoje partnering Tim Swinson in the second-row. Nick Isiekwe moves back to blindside flanker, and he will line up next to co-captain Jackson Wray and Billy Vunipola who has recovered from a knee injury to start at number eight.
Aled Davies starts at scrum-half with co-captain Alex Goode at fly-half, inside an experienced midfield pairing of Tompkins and Alex Lozowski who have both played over 100 times for the club.
Rotimi Segun keeps his place on the left wing after making his 50th appearance last week, whilst Sean Maitland lines up on the right wing and Malins will operate at full-back after an impressive display against the World Champions last week.
On the bench Kapeli Pifeleti is back after he suffered a shoulder injury in October, and in-form Theo McFarland will be looking to continue his fine form which saw him win the Player of the Match award against Harlequins a fortnight ago.
McCall says these occasions are the ones that get all of the players hugely excited.
“This is always an exciting block and this time last year we weren’t playing any games of rugby at all because of the pandemic. Now it feels great to be back and we are going to have a full house at StoneX this weekend against a great side in Sale. These are the sorts of games we’ve missed.”
He continued: “We’ve got some big games coming up with Europe around the corner. They are really significant games, but we are focusing on ourselves and the task at hand. Sale are a hell of a side and very well coached. It’s going to be a massive game for us.”
Saracens Men team to play Sale Sharks:
1 Mako Vunipola
2 Ethan Lewis
3 Vincent Koch
4 Maro Itoje
5 Tim Swinson
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 Jackson Wray (cc)
8 Billy Vunipola
9 Aled Davies
10 Alex Goode (cc)
11 Rotimi Segun
12 Nick Tompkins
13 Alex Lozowski
14 Sean Maitland
15 Max Malins
16 Kapeli Pifeleti
17 Richard Barrington
18 Alec Clarey
19 Theo McFarland
20 Ben Earl
21 Ivan van Zyl
22 Dom Morris
23 Alex Lewington