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Saracens continue to run Goode experiment as team named for Sale Sharks

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

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Saracens are continuing to pick Alex Goode at standoff as the Londoners host Sale Sharks at the StoneX Stadium this weekend.

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Director of Rugby Mark McCall has picked at Goode at 10 with Alex Lozowski preferred at 13, despite the latter’s ability having played 10 for Montpellier for much of last season.

It’s a switch around from October when Saracens beat Harlequins at the Stoop with Lozowski at 10 and Goode in his more traditional fullback role, although McCall ran the same selection at 10 and 13 against London Irish in early November.

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England star Owen Farrell is facing weeks on the sideline after injuring himself during the Autumn Nations Series, while Manu Vunipola hasn’t been included in the matchday 22 after appearing in the Premiership Cup last week. 

Saracens are boosted by the return of four players from the Autumn Nations Series. Vincent Koch, Maro Itoje, Nick Tompkins and Max Malins all go straight back in to the starting XV after returning from international duty during the week.

“This is always an exciting block and this time last year we weren’t playing any games of rugby at all because of the pandemic. Now it feels great to be back and we are going to have a full house at StoneX this weekend against a great side in Sale. These are the sorts of games we’ve missed.”

“We’ve got some big games coming up with Europe around the corner. They are really significant games, but we are focusing on ourselves and the task at hand. Sale are a hell of a side and very well coached. It’s going to be a massive game for us.”

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Koch is joined in the front row by Mako Vunipola and Ethan Lewis, with Itoje partners Tim Swinson in the second row. Nick Isiekwe returns to the blindside flanker position, joining co-captain Jackson Wray and Billy Vunipola, who has returned from a knee injury to start at number eight.

Aled Davies begins at scrum-half, while Tompkins and Lozowski team-up in an experienced midfield.

Rotimi Segun returns to the left flank after making his 50th appearance last week, while Sean Maitland takes his position on the right-wing and Malins returns to full-back following a fine performance against the World Champions last week.

SARACENS:
1 Mako Vunipola
2 Ethan Lewis
3 Vincent Koch
4 Maro Itoje
5 Tim Swinson
6 Nick Isiekwe
7 Jackson Wray (cc)
8 Billy Vunipola
9 Aled Davies
10 Alex Goode (cc)
11 Rotimi Segun
12 Nick Tompkins
13 Alex Lozowski
14 Sean Maitland
15 Max Malins

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REPLACEMENTS:
16 Kapeli Pifeleti
17 Richard Barrington
18 Alec Clarey
19 Theo McFarland
20 Ben Earl
21 Ivan van Zyl
22 Dom Morris
23 Alex Lewington

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