Team News: Saracens Men vs Bedford Blues
Director of Rugby Mark McCall insists the reintegration of the club’s international players has been incredibly positive as several prepare to make their Championship debuts this weekend against Bedford Blues.
Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola all return to bolster the Saracens pack, which will again feature Jamie George, Vincent Koch and Jackson Wray.
Hooker George will captain the side on Sunday with Owen Farrell, who was named new Club Captain this week, missing out with a slight strain.
Elliot Daly will also start at outside centre, while Sean Maitland returns to the left wing as one of eight changes to the starting XV that recorded a bonus-point win over Richmond.
Academy products Joel Kpoku and Andy Christie earn their first Championship starts of the season, Kpoku partnering Itoje in the second row and Christie coming in at blindside flanker.
The final change sees Elliott Obatoyinbo return at full-back with Manu Vunipola and Aled Davies continuing their half-back pairing.
There are two new faces among the replacements as hooker Ethan Lewis could make his debut for the club from the bench, while Janco Venter provides back-row cover as he returns from injury.
“All of the international players are ready to crack on with rugby now,” said McCall. “They’re back in with their teammates, it’s great to have them back and they’ll all keen to roll their sleeves up.
“The history of these players coming back from international windows has always been really positive. They’ve been amazing, the attitude they’ve brought, they’ve brought a real life to the place and it’s been incredibly positive.
“It’s a time of the season which our players have always enjoyed, we’ve always played important games over April and May in the last few years and as it happens some of the games we are going to play are going to be as important.”
Saracens team to face Bedford Blues:
15. Elliott Obatoyinbo
14. Alex Lewington
13. Elliot Daly
12. Duncan Taylor
11. Sean Maitland
10. Manu Vunipola
9. Aled Davies
1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George ©
3. Vincent Koch
4. Maro Itoje
5. Joel Kpoku
6. Andy Christie
7. Jackson Wray
8. Billy Vunipola
- Ethan Lewis
- Ralph Adams-Hale
- Alec Clarey
- Callum Hunter-Hill
- Janco Venter
- Tom Whiteley
- Juan Pablo Socino
- Dom Morris
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