Vunipola's 'adapt' warning as Saracens change two for Leicester
Billy Vunipola has issued a warning to his Saracens team after Mark McCall named an XV showing two changes to face Gallagher Premiership champions Leicester following last weekend’s last-gasp win over Gloucester. Tigers pipped the Londoners to the title 15 weeks ago in dramatic circumstances at Twickenham, Freddie Burns separating the teams with his epic drop goal with just seconds remaining in a final that seemed set for extra time.
The clubs are now among the early pace-setters in the new 2022/23 season, Leicester occupying third place with two wins from three outings while Saracens are fifth following wins in their opening two games against Harlequins and Gloucester.
Having needed a clock-in-the-red converted try to win last weekend at the StoneX, McCall has welcomed back Callum Hunter-Hill and Nick Tompkins into the starting line-up at the expense of Andy Christie and Duncan Taylor.
Hill’s inclusion at lock sees Theo McFarland revert to blindside while Tompkins will link with Alex Lozowski in midfield. There is also a place on the bench for Marco Riccioni, the tighthead who ruptured his ACL while on duty last November for Italy in the Autumn Nations Series.
The rematch with Leicester heralds a third successive Saracens start at No8 for the in-form Vunipola. “This season we have a new focus on ourselves and how we can get better,” he said. “We want to be a team that can adapt to anything and we want to play what’s in front of us, which we will have to do against a strong Leicester side.”
SARACENS (vs Leicester Saturday):
15. Elliot Daly; 14. Max Malins, 13. Alex Lozowski, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Alex Lewington; 10. Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Ivan van Zyl; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Christian Judge, 4. Callum Hunter-Hill, 5. Hugh Tizard, 6. Theo McFarland, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Billy Vunipola. Reps: 16. Kapeli Pifeleti, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Marco Riccioni, 19. Andy Christie, 20. Jackson Wray, 21. Ruben de Haas, 22. Alex Goode, 23. Sean Maitland.
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