Preview: Saracens v Wasps

Date published: September 5 2014

183509325_3200196

Alistair Hargreaves skippers Saracens in his first Premiership game as club captain for the Double Header at Twickenham.

Alistair Hargreaves skippers Saracens in his first Premiership game as club captain for the Double Header at Twickenham.

In the front row, new signing Kieran Longbottom makes his competitive debut at tighthead prop, and is joined by Jamie George and Richard Barrington.

Will Fraser makes a welcome return to the side at openside flanker in the back row as Kelly Brown and Billy Vunipola start at blindside flanker and number eight respectively.

Richard Wigglesworth and Charlie Hodgson partner each other at half-back, with Brad Barritt and Duncan Taylor named at centre.

In the back three, David Strettle starts on the left wing alongside Chris Ashton and Alex Goode.

Meanwhile, Wasps' squad contains six new signings set to make their club debuts this weekend.

The starting XV is balanced with tried and tested combinations alongside four new recruits, with competition for places heating up this season.

“Hopefully this is a sign of things to come in terms of selection meetings becoming longer and decisions becoming harder. I haven't had that type of challenge too often since I've been here and it's a very healthy headache to have. There are very few automatic choices now,” said Young.

“I feel we now have enough strength in depth in most areas to very be competitive and have real pressure on positions. It also gives us the opportunity to rotate and rest players when we need to.

“There are still a couple of players in rehab and a few players coming back who could force their way into the team when they've had some more game time.

“Our squad has plenty of pace and flair as well as physicality. We have good ball-carrying ability up front to create a bit of space and hopefully then enough gas and quality to finish things off.

“We are under no illusion about the size of the challenge ahead of us at Twickenham. Saracens are the team to beat. It's a cliché, but any day you play Saracens you have to play your best rugby if you are to get the result.

“They've been a quality team for a number of years, they know how to win consistently. We are playing one of the best teams in Europe and we are excited about the challenge and looking forward to the big occasion at Twickenham in front of thousands of fans.”

Form: While Sarries eventually fell agonisingly short of reclaiming the Aviva Premiership crown, their regular season efforts will go down in history. They broke the record for most points in a season with a round to spare, becoming the first team since 2000 to rack up 19 league wins during the campaign. Wasps meanwhile had to settle for seventh in the table but after winning their European play-off and recruiting shrewdly over the summer enter the new campaign full of confidence. Saracens return to the scene of their narrow defeat in the Aviva Premiership final just over three months ago; a venue where they had won their previous three Premiership matches. Sarries have won their fixture in the London Double Header on five of the nine occasions that it has been played while Wasps have secured just two victories in their last seven visits to Rugby HQ. Sarries have won their last six encounters with their London rivals in all competitions

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Al Hargeaves (c), 4 George Kruis, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Tim Streather.

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Will Hughes, 7 James Haskell (c), 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 John Yapp , 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Andrea Masi

Date: Saturday, September 6
Venue: Twickenham
Kickoff: 14:00 (local, 13:00 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey, Peter Huckle
TMO: David Sainsbury

COMMENTS