Saracens make a dozen changes for must-win meeting with Munster
England talisman Maro Itoje and Australian Will Skelton are among the raft of players now consigned to the stands, but the Londoners have called up a battalion of choices that featured in England’s run to the World Cup final.
Both Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, feature in a pack that also contains George Kruis and Jamie George. Vincent Kock, who appeared off the bench in the Springboks final win over the English in Yokohama, is also included at tighthead.
Out the back, Saracens will be skippered by England captain Owen Farrell, who has Elliot Daly for company on the left wing and Scotland’s Sean Maitland popping up in the right. The XV also includes first ever European starts for full-back Max Malins and second row Joel Kpoku.
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Beaten in both their away games this winter, Saracens go into round four trailing Racing by six points and Munster by five and they must win at Allianz Park to ensure their title defence carries over into the new year.
The last time Saracens were beaten in Limerick, they bounced back to comprehensively see off Munster in January 2015 and they have also defeated the Irish province in European semi-finals in 2017 and 2019.
With Arno Botha red-carded in the final moments last weekend and suspended for three weeks, Munster, who are chasing knockout stage qualification for the fourth successive season, have opted for a six-top split in their bench with back row Tommy O’Donnell wearing the No23 shirt.
SARACENS: 15. Max Malins; 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Alex Lozowski, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Elliot Daly; 10. Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Richard Wigglesworth; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Vincent Koch, 4. Joel Kpoku, 5. George Kruis, 6. Nick Isiekwe, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Billy Vunipola. Reps: 16. Tom Woolstencroft, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. Josh Ibuanokpe, 19. Calum Clark, 20. Jackson Wray, 21. Ben Spencer, 22. Manu Vunipola, 23. Duncan Taylor.
MUNSTER: 15. Mike Haley; 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Chris Farrell, 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Keith Earls; 10. JJ Hanrahan, 9. Conor Murray; 1. James Cronin, 2. Niall Scannell, 3. John Ryan, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Billy Holland, 6. Tadhg Beirne, 7. Peter O’Mahony (capt), 8. CJ Stander. Reps: 16. Kevin O’Byrne, 17. Liam O’Connor, 18. Stephen Archer, 19. Fineen Wycherley, 20. Jack O’Donoghue, 21. Nick McCarthy, 22. Dan Goggin, 23. Tommy O’Donnell.
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