Preview: Toulouse v Saracens

Date published: January 22 2016

Toulouse will be aiming to avoid back-to-back home defeats for the first time in their European history when they host Pool 1 leaders Saracens.

Having already booked a home quarter-final place after their bonus point win over Ulster, Saracens welcome back England centre Brad Barritt to the starting XV. 

Barritt will skipper Saracens with club captain Alistair Hargreaves still sidelined.

At full-back, Alex Goode also returns to the side, after recovering from a head-knock that ruled him out of last week’s game. Goode is joined by Chris Wyles in the Sarries back three, with Scotland international Duncan Taylor moving to the wing to replace the suspended Chris Ashton.

Marcelo Bosch partners Brad Barritt at centre, with Mark McCall rotating his half-backs for the fixture in south-west France, with the experienced duo of Neil De Kock and Charlie Hodgson named at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.

Up front, Richard Barrington rotates with Mako Vunipola to start at loosehead prop, with Schalk Brits starting at hooker. Juan Figallo is named at tighthead prop.

At lock, Jim Hamilton comes into the side with Maro Itoje being rested, and the former Scotland international will partner George Kruis in the second row.

In the back row, Jacques Burger returns for Saracens to start at openside flanker with the Namibian lining up alongside Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) and Jackson Wray.

Meanwhile, Toulouse have made multiple changes to the side that lost to Oyonnax last week.

Veteran wing Vincent Clerc returns but Toby Flood continues at 13 while Paul Perez moved from inside centre to will to accomodate the return of Florian Fritz.

Imanol Harinordoquy is added to the loose trio along with rising star Yacouba Camara, who replaces Thierry Dusautoir.

A much-changed tight-five sees Patricio Albacete start ahead of Joe Tekori while internationals Corey Flynn and Gurthro Steenkampbolster the front row.

Form: Saracens have scored 192 points so far this campaign. Toulouse have totalled 68. Toulouse have hosted Saracens twice in the Champions Cup (W1, L1), with both games decided by margins of exactly 10 points. Saracens are undefeated in their last three away matches; a fourth win would be their best streak away from home in their European Cup history. Saracens have faced Top 14 opposition three times so far this campaign, winning all three matches and outscoring their opponents by a combined 132-30. Saracens have made 55 clean breaks this season, the most of any club in the competition. Saracens have faced French opposition on 24 occasions in the European Cup, winning 12 of them.

The teams:

Toulouse:15 Clément Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Toby Flood, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Romain Millo-Chluski, 3 Nemiah Tialata, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Gert Muller, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Gregory Lamboley, 21 David Mele, 22 Gael Fickou, 23 Maxime Médard

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Duncan Taylor, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Ben Ransom

Date: Saturday, January 23
Venue: Stade Ernest Wallon
Kick-off: 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales),Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales)