Preview: Saracens v Leeds Carnegie

Date published: February 18 2011

Steve Borthwick returns from injury to lead Saracens in their clash with Leeds Carnegie at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

Steve Borthwick returns from injury to lead Saracens in their clash against Leeds Carnegie at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

The 31-year-old has been out of action for four weeks and replaces Mouritz Botha in the second row.

Richard Wigglesworth, Michael Tagicakibau and James Short are all elevated to the starting line-up having started Sarries' previous clash on the bench.

With flanker Jacques Burger sidelined by a knee injury, Andy Saull takes over the number seven jersey.

Despite being on vastly different ends of the points table, Director of Rugby Mark McCall insists there will be no complacency as Saracens look to cement their standing in the play-off positions.

“Before last weekend's game at Northampton, we had 9 matches remaining in the regular Premiership season – or 9 projects as we are thinking of it,” explained McCall.

“Northampton was project one, Sunday's game against Leeds is project two and we have had a great week of preparation.

“Leeds are a very well organised side who will fight for everything and we need to be ready for that. They have a very good set piece with a number of talented players – they will work hard, but we must work harder.”

Leeds welcome back hooker Steve Thompson and flank Hendre Fourie from international duty, and the duo slot straight back into the starting XV.

Head Coach Neil Back has made three further changes, with Mike McDonald replacing Gareth Hardy at prop, Daniel Browne coming in at lock for the injured Tom Denton and Adrian Jarvis replacing Ceiron Thomas at fly-half. Thomas takes up a position on the replacements bench despite still struggling with an injury picked up against Leicester.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 James Short, 13 Michael Tagicakibau, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth,8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Justin Melck, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Jared Saunders, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Rodd Penney, 23 Noah Cato

Leeds Carnegie: 15 Leigh Hinton, 14 Lee Blackett, 13 Henry Faafili, 12 Scott Barrow, 11 Michael Stephenson, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Warren Fury, 8 Alfie Tooala, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Kearnan Myall, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 James Craig, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Mike MacDonald.
Replacements:16. Phil Nilsen,17 Gareth Hardy, 18 Juan Gomez, 19 Daniel Browne, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Scott Mathie, 22 Ceiron Thomas, 23 Luther Burrell.

Date: Sunday, February 20
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Vicarage Road