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Farrell and Smith to collide as Saracens and Harlequins name teams

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith will challenge each other head-on this Saturday with their Gallagher Premiership clubs following a Guinness Six Nations campaign in which their 10/12 partnership was abandoned in favour of Steve Borthwick having them both compete for the same England No10 shirt.

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The Smith at 10 and Farrell 12 combination had started the opening round match versus Scotland and a defeat prompted Borthwick to take action against the tactic he had inherited from the Eddie Jones era.

Farrell was chosen as the England out-half in the wins over Italy and Wales, with Smith restricted to minimal game time off the bench. Those roles were then reversed for the round four game versus France, as Smith was promoted to start with Farrell providing cover from the bench.

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However, these positions changed again last weekend in Dublin with Farrell reinstated to start and he played the full 80 minutes with Smith left rooted to the bench as an unused replacement.

Now, the England skipper will go head-to-head against his Test shirt rival as Farrell and Smith have been named as the respective No10s for Saturday’s Premiership clash between Saracens and Harlequins at Tottenham.

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In excess of 40,000 tickets have been sold for the London derby and those fans are in for a treat as both clubs have named stacked XVs. Aside from Farrell, Saracens have also included the likes of Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Maro Itoje to start. As for Harlequins, Alex Dombrandt has been chosen and his clash at No8 with Billy Vunipola will be intriguing as he got that position at Test level for the Six Nations at the expense of the Saracens back-rower. Joe Marchant and Jack Walker are also named to start.

Farrell said: “This is always one of the best days on the calendar and we cannot wait to run out in such an incredible stadium for what is a massive game. The atmosphere here last season was amazing.

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“I know the club works very hard to put on a show for everyone. It’s great to be back in with all the lads and we are all really excited to keep pushing forward over the next few months with so much at stake.”

Harlequins boss Tabai Matson added: “For us, this performance is critical. We have to bring our best game and sustain that for a long period. Having our lads back from English duty bolsters the morale of our changing room and allows us to play at a higher level, and that’s the same for everyone across the league, particularly with Saracens.

“It is the rivalries in sport that take teams to other levels. We are both London clubs, we play contrasting styles and there are obviously players competing for international positions, but it all just adds to the showdown.”

SARACENS: 15. Alex Goode; 14. Max Malins, 13. Alex Lozowski, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Sean Maitland; 10. Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Ivan van Zyl; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Hugh Tizard, 6. Andy Christie, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Billy Vunipola. Reps: 16. Theo Dan, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Alec Clarey, 19. Nick Isiekwe, 20. Jackson Wray, 21. Aled Davies, 22. Duncan Taylor, 23. Alex Lewington

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HARLEQUINS: 15. Nick David; 14, Joe Marchant, 13. Luke Northmore, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Cadan Morley; 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Jack Walker, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Irne Herbst, 5. Stephan Lewies (capt), 6. Jack Kenningham, 7. James Chisholm, 8. Alex Dombrandt. Reps: 16. Sam Riley, 17. Fin Baxter, 18. Will Collier, 19. Dino Lamb, 20. Will Evans, 21. Scott Steele, 22. Tommy Allan, 23. Oscar Beard.

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