Preview: Saracens v Wasps

Date published: October 7 2016

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Saracens have named their side to face Wasps at Allianz Park in round six of the Aviva Premiership, with Sean Maitland at full-back.

The off-season recruit from London Irish slots in the Sarries back three in the number fifteen jersey with Chris Wyles reverting to his customary left wing position. Mike Ellery continues on the right wing.

Skipper Brad Barritt continues at inside centre and is joined by Marcelo Bosch in the Sarries midfield. In the half-backs, Alex Lozowskki continues at fly-half to face his former club and he is partnered by Richard Wigglesworth, who comes in at scrum-half.

Up front, Mako Vunipola is joined by Schalk Brits and Juan Figallo in the front row, whilst England duo Maro Itoje and George Kruis pack down in the second row. Schalk Burger continues at openside flanker and is joined by Michael Rhodes and Billy Vunipola in the Sarries back row.

Speaking ahead of the game, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: “Wasps have quality throughout their squad and will pose us a significant challenge. However this kind of test that brings out the best in our group and I know the players are tremendously excited about Sunday’s game.”

Meanwhile, Wasps club captain Joe Launchbury makes a welcome return to the matchday squad after time out with injury, taking a spot among the replacements. Jimmy Gopperth will be the fourth player to captain the side this season, as he takes on the duties until Launchbury enters the action.

The backline remains unchanged from last weekend, with Elliot Daly set to make his 100th Premiership appearance.

There are four personnel changes in the pack. In the front row, Simon McIntyre stars at loosehead with Matt Mullan moving to the bench, Tommy Taylor comes in at hooker with Ashley Johnson shifting to the back row. Marty Moore starts at tighthead, with Jake Cooper-Woolley named among the replacements. In the back row, Thomas Young starts at openside.

Alongside Joe Launchbury on the bench, there’s a place for Tom Cruse, who comes into the matchday 23 for the first time this season, in line for his club Premiership debut, as well as a spot for Alex Rieder.

Ahead of Wasps’ trip to Allianz Park to take on the champions, Young said: “I’m really pleased with the start we’ve made and the exciting part is, I still think there’s more to come from the team – there are a few areas we need to improve on. We’re nowhere near the finished article and we’ve ridden our luck on occasions this season, like Northampton away, but I think we were better last weekend and deserved that win.

“This game on Sunday will be a massive test for us and will really show us how far we’ve come since the end of last season or how much work there is still to do. We played Sarries in the European Champions Cup Semi Final last season and they were worthy winners. We probably came second best in most departments. It will be interesting to see how much we’ve improved and whether we have closed that gap and whether we can really push them.”

Form: Saracens' solitary defeat in any competition since March was 10-17 to Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop in Round 4 of the Premiership, whilst they have not been defeated at Allianz Park since Northampton were the visitors in Round 15 last season. Wasps reside at the top of the Premiership table courtesy of an unblemished winning record this campaign. Prior to this season Wasps had only ever topped the table in the Premiership after a complete round of games just four times, the last of which was in season 2009/10. Saracens have lost just one of their last ten fixtures against Wasps in all competitions but that was with a 23-64 scoreline at Allianz Park in February – the most points Saracens have ever conceded in a Premiership home game.   

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Matt Gallagher

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Kyle Eastmond, 23 Frank Halai

Date: Sunday, October 9
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Philip Watters 
TMO: Graham Hughes

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