Preview: Saracens v Toulouse

Date published: November 13 2015

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Saracens centre Brad Barritt will captain the side in their Pool 1 fixture against the four-time European Cup winners Toulouse on Saturday.

The England midfielder will lead the Premiership champions in their first European fixture of the 2015/16 season – Barritt will be joined by Duncan Taylor in the Saracens midfield.

Elsewhere in the Saracens backline, England half-backs Richard Wigglesworth and Owen Farrell will partner each other at nine and ten whilst the prolific wing pairing of Chris Ashton and Chris Wyles will also start – Alex Goode continues at full-back.

Up front, Saracens have named an exciting pack of forwards with hooker Jamie George returning to the side to take his place at hooker. George takes his place in the Saracens front-row alongside Mako Vunipola and Petrus Du Plessis.

At lock, 21-year-old Maro Itoje will pack down alongside England man George Kruis in the heart of the Sarries engine room.

In the back-row, in-form loose forward Will Fraser comes into the side for the suspended Jacques Burger, whilst Billy Vunipola continues at number eight – Mike Rhodes is named at blindside flanker.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game, director of rugby Mark McCall said: "Everyone connected with the club loves playing in the Champions Cup, and it is a stage which all players like to test themselves on. Over the last three seasons we have faced some of the toughest sides in Europe and have reached two semi-finals and one final. This achievement is something that we are extremely proud of and we want to build on that this season."

Meanwhile, Toulouse have named an impressive line-up that includes Gaël Fickou, who scored a hat-trick in the Top 14 last week. He starts alongside Toby Flood in the centres while Sébastien Bézy and Luke McAlister wear nine and ten respectively.

Up front Census Johnston starts at tighthead prop against his former side while Louis Picamoles, Thierry Dusautoir and Yacouba Camara form a dynamic back row combination.

Form: The last time Saracens failed to make the quarter finals was in 2010/11, when they were also drawn against two French teams in the pool stages. Saracens have won 18 of their last 24 pool matches, but only one of their last four pool games against French teams. Saracens have won 12 of their last 14 home matches in the competition (L2), although their two defeats in that run came against French opposition. Toulouse have played 144 Champions Cup games yet have never lost more than three consecutive matches, should they lose to Saracens it will equal that three-game losing streak for just the second time in their history. Despite this, Toulouse have won seven of their last 10 matches in the competition. The French side have also won four of their last six against English opponents in the Champions Cup.

The teams:

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

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Timoci Matanavou, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Millo-Chluski, 20 Imanol Harinordoquy, 21 Talalelei Gray, 22 Jean-Marc Doussain, 23 Yann David.

Date: Saturday, November 14
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Kieran Barry (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

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