Preview: Saracens v Leicester

Date published: December 31 2015

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Saracens have made three changes to the starting line-up for their home game against Leicester, with boss Mark McCall continuing to rotate.

In come Marcelo Bosch at centre, Charlie Hodgson at fly-half and Schalk Brits at hooker with Duncan Taylor, Owen Farrell and Jamie George all reverting to the bench.

Up front, Springbok hooker Brits comes into the front-row to join Mako Vunipola and Petrus Du Plessis. At lock, with captain Alistair Hargreaves still ruled out, Maro Itoje and George Kruis continue as Sarries second-row pair.

In the back-row, openside flanker Will Fraser continues alongside Billy Vunipola number eight and Mike Rhodes.

At half-back, Hodgson comes in for Farrell and will partner England scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth.

In the centre, Brad Barritt will skipper the side alongside Argentine international Bosch. In the back three, Alex Goode continues at full-back alongside Chris Ashton (right wing) and Chris Wyles (left wing).

"We have had some great battles with Leicester over the last few seasons. Under Richard Cockerill the Tigers have consistently challenged for the top spots in the Aviva Premiership and they have made a great start to the season both in the league and in Europe. We know that we will have to put in a strong performance on Saturday if we want to come away with the win," said McCall.

Meanwhile, Argentina international wing Gonzalo Camacho will make his first Premiership start for Leicester Tigers in Saturday's Round 8 match.

Camacho made his Tigers debut as a replacement in the European win over Munster in December and will start at Allianz Park.

Mathew Tait joins Seremaia Bai at centre, with Telusa Veainu at full-back.

Tigers prop Marcos Ayerza makes his 150th appearance in Premiership Rugby, while colleague Dan Cole is in line for his 100th game in the top flight with a place among the replacements.

Owen Williams returns to the matchday squad after recovering from a knee injury suffered in the first leg of the European back-to-back games against Munster. He is joined among the replacements by wing Adam Thompstone who started the first 10 games of the season for Tigers before sitting out the Boxing Day win over Newcastle Falcons.

Form: Saracens have won their last 14 first team matches since the 10th May when Exeter beat them at Allianz Park in Aviva Premiership Rugby. This is their only defeat at the venue in any tournament since November 2014. Leicester Tigers have won their last seven matches in all tournaments since going down to Exeter at Sandy Park in round 4 of Premiership Rugby. The Tigers only victory in their last seven encounters with Saracens in all competitions was 31-27 at Welford Road in round 22 of Premiership Rugby last season – this sequence does include two drawn games. Leicester have lost on both of their previous visits to Allianz Park.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Laurence Pearce, 7 Tom Croft, 6 Ed Slater (c), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Adam Thompstone.

Date: Saturday, January 2
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Peter Huckle
TMO: Graham Hughes

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