Saracens pick their best for Bulls
Saracens laid down the gauntlet ahead of Saturday night’s massive Investec Champions’ Cup game by making six changes - including a return of England captain Owen Farrell to their side to face the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The selection - which includes virtually every international they have - shows how seriously they are taking the game and how they are looking to overcome the heat and altitude to take early points in the tournament.
Farrell, who missed out on their loss to the Northampton Saints and took time off to sort out mental health issues, returns to the side to captain them at Loftus Versfeld, setting up a good duel with Johan Goosen at flyhalf.
Also in the side are the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, British and Irish Lions star Maro Itoje, Puma Juan Martin Gonzalez and former Bulls halfback Ivan van Zyl.
Scottish winger Sean Maitland lines up as well with the British and Irish Lions duo of Welshman Nick Tompkins and England’s Elliot Daly in the midfield. England hooker Jamie George is in the front row as well.
Saracens coach Marc McCall was happy the game is a night game, and said he rated the Bulls highly.
“It’s a little bit different to what we’re used to, but the fact it’s a night-time kick-off is a good thing for us. We’ve been really impressed with what we’ve seen of them, especially in their last few fixtures. They’re strong in all areas, with a big pack of forwards and some really good players. They really have some incredible pace in the backline and with the likes of Will Le Roux in there too, there’s plenty of experience.”
McCall believes that the match will be special and should bring the best out in his side.
“It feels different and feels special. We’ve had a good relationship with this competition for a very long period of time and games don’t come much tougher than the Bulls away. It’s a challenge, but that normally brings out the best of the group we’ve got.”
“When the big tests come, the club has always become tighter together and looked out for each other. I’m so privileged to be part of this group of people. A week like this is worth its weight in gold for us, as the new players have a chance to really bond with those who have been here a bit longer.”
Saracens: Alex Goode; Alex Lewington, Elliot Daly, Nick Tompkins, Sean Maitland; Owen Farrell, Ivan van Zyl; Billy Vunipola, Andy Christie, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Hugh Tizard, Maro Itjoe, Alec Clary, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: Theo Dan, Tom West, Christian Judge, Theo McFarland, Toby Knight, Aled Davies, Olly Hartley, Lucio Cinty