Planet Rugby

Preview: Saracens v Connacht

17th January 2014 09:42

Share:

steve borthwick saracens

Skipper: Steve Borthwick

Connacht boss Pat Lam has made four personnel changes for his side's Heineken Cup clash with Saracens on Saturday at Allianz Park.

Dan Parks has been named in the number 10 jersey. The veteran fly-half is 27 points shy of reaching the milestone of 500 Heineken Cup points. Mayo-born Gavin Duffy also returns to the back line this week, starting at full-back.

The second-row partnership of Connacht's highest capped player Michael Swift and captain Craig Clarke returns this week to boost the pack.

There is a reshuffle in the back row with John Muldoon moving to number eight in place of the injured Eoin McKeon. Andrew Brown slots in to blindside flanker while Jake Heenan remains on the openside.

Galway-born back Tiernan O'Halloran is named on the replacements bench.

"This is a huge game for Connacht, we all know that," added Lam.

"Win and we qualify for a quarter final in Europe. Big games require your big players to step up and lead the way, so it's great to be able to call on four of our most experienced players Gavin, Dan, Swifty and Craig this week.

"We were unfortunate to lose Eoin McKeon to injury in training this week. He has had to have surgery on his hand and is likely to be out of action for up to two months. It's a big loss to our back row resources.

"We have a lot of respect for what Saracens are achieving. They are well coached, well resourced and top of the English premiership, with an excellent stadium. They have only lost once on this new 4G surface and they have racked up a high number of points against opposition teams. If we play as individuals, it will be a long day at the office tomorrow."

Meanwhile, in the Saracens backs, Charlie Hodgson replaces Owen Farrell at fly-half, and is partnered by Richard Wigglesworth at scrum-half. Scotland international centre Duncan Taylor comes into the midfield, as Chris Wyles is named among the replacements.

In the pack, Matt Stevens returns to the front row starting at tighthead prop, and in the second-row, England Saxon lock forward George Kruis partners captain Steve Borthwick.

The teams:

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

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Eoin Griffin, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Craig Clarke (c), 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White, 2 Sean Henry, 1 Brett Wilkinson
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Darragh Leader, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran

Date: Saturday, January 18
Kick-off: 13:35 GMT
Venue: Allianz Park
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Greg Morgan (Wales)
Television match official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 37 - 23 Cardiff BluesLeinster vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411