TEAM NEWS | Saracens Men v London Irish
Director of Rugby Mark McCall is expecting another fiery local battle as London Irish make the short journey to StoneX Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In a second consecutive derby for the Men in Black, they will be looking to sign off the first block of Gallagher Premiership matches with a fifth consecutive victory before the Premiership Cup commences next week.
There are five changes to the starting XV for the London derby, with two up front and three in the back-line.
Alec Clarey comes in to the front-row to make his first start of the season alongside Mako Vunipola and Tom Woolstencroft, whilst the second-row pairing of Nick Isiekwe and Tim Swinson stays the same.
Andy Christie and co-captain Jackson Wray are joined in the back-row by Ben Earl who returns to the side at number eight in Billy Vunipola’s absence.
Ivan van Zyl has a new half-back partner as Alex Goode moves in to fly-half, and there is a long-awaited return for Duncan Taylor in the midfield who lines up next to Alex Lozowski.
There are two changes in the back-three as Rotimi Segun is back on the left wing and Elliott Obatoyinbo gets the nod at full-back, with Alex Lewington facing his former side on the right.
On the bench the likes of Ethan Lewis and Theo McFarland will be looking to build on their Premiership debuts last weekend, and there is plenty of firepower to add to the back-line in the form of Aled Davies, Dom Morris and Sean Maitland.
McCall is aware of the task ahead against a team led by a man he has huge respect for.
“I know Declan (Kidney) from back home and I’m a huge admirer of his. Irish have an established group of experienced players and some real young talent coming through, particularly in the back-three.” He said.
“They are a very dangerous team. In all matches they’ve played so far they’ve had patches where they’ve been dominant and of course they beat a full strength Exeter team recently so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Saracens Men team to play London Irish:
1 Mako Vunipola
2 Tom Woolstencroft
3 Alec Clarey
4 Nick Isiekwe
5 Tim Swinson
6 Andy Christie
7 Jackson Wray (cc)
8 Ben Earl
9 Ivan van Zyl
10 Alex Goode (cc)
11 Rotimi Segun
12 Duncan Taylor
13 Alex Lozowski
14 Alex Lewington
15 Elliott Obatoyinbo
16 Ethan Lewis
17 Richard Barrington
18 Sam Wainwright
19 Theo McFarland
20 Sean Reffell
21 Aled Davies
22 Dom Morris
23 Sean Maitland