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Saracens name strong team ahead of opening Heineken Cup match against Connacht Rugby at the Sportsground
Owen Farrell returns to fly-half and Will Fraser keeps his place at flanker as Saracens prepare to open up their Heineken Cup campaign against Connacht tomorrow.
While Sarries map out their teams well in advance for league matches for rotation purposes, it is understood the Men in Black classed this is as 'selection' game and have fielded a very strong side as a result.
George Kruis continues at lock forward while Alex Goode comes back in at full-back after starting at number ten against Wasps.
Saracens coach Paul Gustard told the Times Series: "We don’t want to look too far ahead – there’s a famous saying that to have one eye on the goal you only have one eye on the pass and for us we want to have both eyes firmly fixed on Connacht.
"We think Connacht are a formidable challenge. They've lost a lot of their games this year but have caused all the teams they've played a lot of problems.
"They have a strong set-piece, a very good scrumming unit, they win a lot of ball at the line-out, they’re innovative with a nine who picks and goes round the fringes and a ten who has some great kicking boots and plays a wide expansive game.
"They have two strong centres and a back three that are very dangerous and within all that they have a spine of Connacht players born and bred and it means the world to them to wear the green jersey in front of their own fans."
In the last four seasons Connacht have beaten Harlequins, Biarritz and Toulouse in Galway but they have lost five of their last six games against English opposition.
"There’s no second chance in the Heineken Cup," he added. "You can’t afford to lose because there's no next week and this time there's no next season perhaps.
"So we're going to go there with a team and a squad we believe are capable of getting a result against a very good side."
Connacht lock Michael Swift returns to the starting line-up and will captain the Irish side while new signing James So’oialo is set to make his debut.
Saracens: 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Schalk Brits, 3. Matt Stevens, 4. Steve Borthwick (capt), 5. George Kruis, 6. Kelly Brown, 7. Will Fraser, 8. Billy Vunipola; 9. Neil de Kock, 10. Owen Farrell, 11. David Strettle, 12. Chris Wyles, 13. Joel Tomkins, 14. Chris Ashton, 15. Alex Goode
Replacements: 16. Jamie George, 17. Rhys Gill, 18. James Johnston, 19. Alastair Hargreaves, 20. Ernst Joubert, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Duncan Taylor, 23. Michael Tagicakibau
Connacht: 1. Brett Wilkinson, 2. Sean Henry, 3. Rodney Ah You, 4. Michael Swift (captain), 5. Craig Clarke, 6. John Muldoon,7. Jake Heenan, 8. George Naoupu, 9. Kieran Marmion, 10. Dan Parks, 11. Danie Poolman, 12. James So’oialo, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 14. Fionn Carr, 15. Gavin Duffy
Replacements: 16. Jason Harris-Wright, 17. Peter Reilly, 18. JP Cooney, 19. Aly Muldowney, 20. Andrew Browne, 21. Paul O’Donohoe, 22. Craig Ronaldson, 23. Tiernan O’Halloran
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