Preview: Saracens v London Wasps

Date published: October 4 2013

Will Fraser returns from injury to start his first game of the season for Saracens against London Wasps at Allianz Park on Saturday.

Will Fraser returns from injury to start his first game of the season for Saracens against London Wasps at Allianz Park on Saturday.

With Charlie Hodgson ruled out with injury, Alex Goode moves up from full-back to wear the number ten shirt, with Owen Farrell moving to the bench. Chris Wyles partners Joel Tomkins at centre, whilst Neil de Kock replaces Richard Wigglesworth at scrum-half. Michael Tagicakibau comes in for David Strettle on the left wing, and Ben Ransom starts at full back.

In the pack, James Johnston starts his first game of the season at tighthead prop, and he is joined by the returning Rhys Gill and Jamie George in the front row. Alastair Hargreaves partners George Kruis at lock, as the returning Fraser starts at openside flanker alongside Jackson Wray and number eight Ernst Joubert, who will captain the side in a new look back row.

“We've made a good start in the competition, but we are conscious that it's not about how you start in this competition; it's about how you finish,” said Director of Rugby Mark McCall.

“All we want to do is to keep on improving week by week and put ourselves in the frame at the end of the season. We will never look too far ahead”.

Meanwhile, Chris Bell will lead a Wasps side showing three changes to the starting team that defeated Worcester last weekend.

Ed Jackson returns from illness to start in the backrow, an area which sees Ashley Johnson switch flanks to openside as Sam Jones has been ruled out with a knock this weekend.

Jackson's return is the only change in the pack while in the backs Joe Carlisle is handed his first start for the club at fly-half and Charlie Hayter is recalled to the starting line-up in the centre.

Tom Palmer and Joe Simpson are both ruled out through minor injuries.

“It was great to get our first win last weekend but we know we have a huge challenge on our hands on Saturday,” said Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young.

“Saracens right now probably present the most physical threat in the league and we will have to front up and be ready for that.”

Form: Saracens recorded a fourth straight Aviva Premiership victory at Harlequins on Saturday, and have not lost at home in the tournament in the regular season since Harlequins were the visitors to Wembley Stadium on 21st March 2012. London Wasps eleven game losing run came to a welcome end with their convincing bonus point victory over Worcester at Adams Park on Saturday. Wasps have been defeated in their last six Premiership away games but have at least recorded four losing bonus points in that sequence. Wasps only victory over Saracens in their last six fixtures was 20-15 at Twickenham during the 2011 London Double Header. This is Wasps first visit to Allianz Park.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Alex Goode 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert (c) 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Alastair Hargreaves, 3 James Johnston, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 David Strettle

London Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Chris Bell (c), 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Ed Jackson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Cannon, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Jack Moates, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Ben Jacobs.

Date: Saturday, October 5
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce