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Billy Vunipola in line for return

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Billy Vunipola on the verge of a return after arm break

Billy Vunipola could make his first appearance of the season for Saracens after he was named on their bench to face Bristol Bears at Allianz Park on Saturday.

The number 8 re-fractured his arm while on tour with England in South Africa, when they lost the second Test 23-12 in Bloemfontein. Vunipola had previously spent four months on the sidelines having first broken his arm when playing for Saracens against Ospreys in a Champions Cup encounter in January, which forced him to miss the 2018 Natwest Six Nations.

Sione Vailanu will start at number 8, his first Gallagher Premiership match.

The Tongan, who featured off the bench at Newcastle Falcons last weekend, is one of five changes to the Saracens side that recorded a bonus-point win in the North East.

Two-try debutant Alex Lewington is picked on the wing with Matt Gallagher on the other flank after impressing in the Premiership Rugby Shield. Opening round starters Sean Maitland (dislocated finger) and David Strettle (head) miss out.

Ben Spencer has recovered from illness to play at scrum-half while Nick Isiekwe comes in at lock.

Juan Figallo (PCL) and Duncan Taylor (ACL) have been ruled out for lengthy periods.

Saracens side to face Bristol at Allianz Park on Saturday 8th September (15H00 KO):

15 Alex Goode
14 Matt Gallagher
13 Alex Lozowski
12 Brad Barritt ©
11 Alex Lewington
10 Owen Farrell
9 Ben Spencer

1 Mako Vunipola
2 Jamie George
3 Vincent Koch
4 Maro Itoje
5 Nick Isiekwe
6 Michael Rhodes
7 Jackson Wray
8 Sione Vailanu

16 Christopher Tolofua
17 Richard Barrington
18 Titi Lamositele
19 Will Skelton
20 Billy Vunipola
21 Richard Wigglesworth
22 Nick Tompkins
23 Liam Williams

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Billy Vunipola on the verge of a return after arm break