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Preview: Saracens v Ospreys

09th December 2011 07:53

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Peter Stringer

Should debut: Peter Stringer

Saracens return to Wembley this week to face the Ospreys in the Heineken Cup, with twice tournament winner Peter Stringer set to make his debut.

Ireland veteran Stringer, who joined Saracens on a three-month loan on Saturday from Munster, is named on the bench for the Round 3 clash.

In other team news, Schalk Brits is back from suspension while Brad Barritt, Jacques Burger and Charlie Hodgson all return to the line-up.

"Wembley has become a home from home for us in recent seasons, but it's a stage on which the players really enjoy performing and after a very good week of preparation, we can't wait for kick off," said Director of Rugby Mark McCall.

"The Ospreys are enjoying a fine season and although they have undergone a number of changes in the past 12 months, they have some very talented players within their squad and we know that we face a big challenge.

"We are well placed after the opening two matches in our pool, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done - and that starts Saturday."

Meanwhile, flanker Tom Smith will continue to lead the Ospreys in what Director of Coaching, Scott Johnson, believes is the time when Pools are won and lost.

Returning to the side this week from international duty will be wing Shane Williams, flank Justin Tipuric, second-row Ryan Jones, fly-half Dan Biggar and prop Ryan Bevington.

"This stage of the tournament is always a crucial time, with the double headers pivotal to how the pool works out. We've got two tough games back to back against the English champions, but we've got our fate in our own hands. How far we go in terms of reaching the knockout stages is down to us, nobody else," said Johnson.

"Saracens are a big, strong team with a dominant pack so we know where it's going to be won or lost. Selection has been tough given the form of the guys who played in the last two league games, but we think we've gone with a 23 that will be up for the job. Make no mistake about it, everyone of them will have a big part to play."

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 George Kruis, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Adam Powell, 23 James Short.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Tom Smith, 5 Jonathan Thomas, 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Ian Gough, 20 George Stowers, 21 Tom Isaacs, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Sonny Parker.

Date: Saturday, December 10
Kick-off: 18:00
Venue: Wembley
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

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Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Leinster622
2Northampton617
3Castres69
4Ospreys65