Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v Zebre

11th December 2013 09:14

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Marcelo Bosch for Saracens

Thirteen: Marcelo Bosch

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has named his side that will face Zebre in their first Heineken Cup game at their new home, Allianz Park.

Owen Farrell returns at fly-half, starting his first game in their number ten shirt since returning from international duty. He is partnered by 30-year-old scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth.

Duncan Taylor and Marcelo Bosch partner each other at centre, wearing the twelve and thirteen jerseys respectively whilst Alex Goode, Chris Ashton and David Strettle make up the back three.

In the pack, Richard Barrington and James Johnston continue as props and are joined by Jamie George in the front-row, with Schalk Brits moving to a bench that includes Mako Vunipola.

Try scorer for a second successive game last weekend George Kruis partners captain Steve Borthwick at lock.

Jacques Burger returns to the fray for the first time after his 36 tackle heroics away at Exeter three weeks ago, with Jackson Wray coming into the side at blindside flanker as Billy Vunipola replaces last week's man of the match Ernst Joubert at number eight.

"If you look at the Zebre squad who we faced last week, in the likes of Marco Bortolami, Quintin Geldenhuys, Mauro Bergamasco, Salvatore Perugini and the familiar face of Kameli Ratuvou, they have players who have vast experience on the domestic and international stage. So we can expect a very competitive match," said McCall.

Meanwhile, Zebre will be eager to improve on last week's 39-10 loss to the English club.

Roberto Quartaroli comes in at thirteen as Kameli Ratuvou moves to twelve in place of Gonzalo Garcia. Luciano Orquera and Brendon Leonard form a new half-back combination.

Andrea Manici has been handed a start at hooker.

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 James Johnston, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Ben Ransom.

Zebre: 15 Gullo Palazzani, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Kameli Ratuvou, 11 Giambattista Venditti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samu Vunisa, 7 Nicola Cattina, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Luciano Leibson, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Mike Van Vuren, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Tommaso Iannone, 23 Giiulio Toniolatti.

Date: Saturday 14th December
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon, Kieran Barry (both Ireland)
TMO: Alan Rogan (Ireland)

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