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Harlequins recall Esterhuizen for Premiership final but Exeter keep Hogg on bench

By Liam Heagney

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Harlequins have made three changes to their Gallagher Premiership final XV against defending champions Exeter, who have decided to keep Scotland captain and potential Lions Test No15 Stuart Hogg on the bench and instead retain an unchanged XV that has Jack Nowell listed at full-back.

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Springboks centre Andre Esterhuizen is back in the Harlequins midfield following the completion of his six-week ban for his red-carded strike with an elbow in the April win over London Irish. He takes over Ben Tapuai, who will sit on the bench.

Back row James Chisholm also returns to the starting XV in place of the benched Tom Lawday following a try-scoring contribution as a replacement in the comeback semi-final victory last weekend at Bristol. Meanwhile, Cadan Murley will start on the wing following last weekend’s injury to Aaron Morris.

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Harlequins general manager Billy Millard said: “Before a ball has been kicked in anger this weekend, I want to go on the record stating how proud I am of this side. This is a special group with the ability to do exceptional things.

“We know Exeter offer us a very different challenge to the one we came up against in Bristol last weekend. We have done our due diligence and have worked hard on our physical and mental preparation this week. This is an exciting time for the club and we will be sure to make the most of every moment.”

Exeter, meanwhile, have selected an XV unchanged from last weekend’s semi-final win over Sale as flanker Richard Capstick, who failed his HIA following an early high tackle collision with Manu Tuilagi, has come through his return to play protocols. Chiefs boss Rob Baxter said: “You have to be a fool to not notice what Quins did last week.

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“Bristol have been a good team this season and have beaten most sides, including ourselves, yet Quins made them look pretty ordinary for a good chunk of that game. Now, we have to make sure we don’t ever look ordinary in the game and that means focusing on being the best versions of ourselves we can be.”

HARLEQUINS: 15. Tyrone Green; 14. Louis Lynagh, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Cadan Murley; 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Scott Baldwin, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Matt Symons, 5. Stephan Lewies (capt), 6. James Chisholm, 7. Jack Kenningham, 8. Alex Dombrandt. Reps: 16. Joe Gray, 17. Santiago Garcia Botta, 18. Will Collier, 19. Dino Lamb, 20. Tom Lawday, 21. Martin Landajo, 22. Ben Tapuai, 23. Luke Northmore.

EXETER: 15. Jack Nowell; 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ollie Devoto, 11. Tom O’Flaherty; 10. Joe Simmonds (capt), 9. Jack Maunder; 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Harry Williams, 4. Jonny Gray, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Jannes Kirsten, 7. Richard Capstick, 8. Sam Simmonds. Reps: 16. Jack Yeandle, 17. Ben Moon, 18. Marcus Street, 19. Sean Lonsdale, 20. Don Armand, 21. Stu Townsend, 22. Harvey Skinner, 23. Stuart Hogg.

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Harlequins recall Esterhuizen for Premiership final but Exeter keep Hogg on bench

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