Saracens have named their team for their long-awaited Championship opener at Cornish Pirates on Saturday, coach Mark McCall selecting a starting XV that shows seven changes from the side that played in their last Gallagher Premiership match 22 weeks ago, a home draw with Bath on October 4. 

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There are four repeat selections in the backline from that match five months ago, wingers Alex Lewington and Sean Maitland along with midfielder Juan Pablo Socino and out-half Manu Vunipola.

In the pack, the survivors from that long-ago last Premiership appearance are the World Cup-winning Vincent Koch, second row Tim Swinson (one of the club’s many players who fell foul of the bubble regulations while on duty with the Barbarians), Callum Hunter-Hill and Jackson Wray, who will skipper the side.    

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While seven changes might sound a lot dating back to their October draw versus Bath, the XV has only two switches from last week’s 47-12 friendly win at Coventry, Dom Morris and Rotimi Segun dropping to the bench. 

Replacement Saracens prop Alec Clarey recently set the scene for the new Championship season, telling RugbyPass: “I hope to win (promotion) but people need to realise it’s a really tough league 

“A couple of lads have asked what it is like. I was at the Champ for about four years and all I have got to really share is that these lads are hungry in the Champ. They have nothing to lose. I don’t think there is relegation happening for this season coming up, so they have nothing to lose. They will be bringing their all and they will be going at it hammer and tong. They are not to be underestimated at all.” 

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SARACENS (vs Cornish Pirates, Saturday)
15. Elliott Obatoyinbo
14. Alex Lewington
13. Duncan Taylor
12. Juan Pablo Socino
11. Sean Maitland
10. Manu Vunipola
9. Aled Davies
1. Richard Barrington
2. Kapeli Pifeleti
3. Vincent Koch
4. Callum Hunter-Hill
5. Tim Swinson
6. Mike Rhodes
7. Sean Reffell
8. Jackson Wray (capt)
Replacements
16. Sam Crean
17. Eroni Mawi
18. Alec Clarey
19. Joel Kpoku
20. Andy Christie
21. Tom Whiteley
22. Dom Morris
23. Rotimi Segun

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