Gloucester v Saracens preview: England star returns to action for Sarries this weekend

  • Gloucester make five changes from their loss to Leicester for Friday
  • Saracens and England prop Mako Vunipola returns from nine weeks out
  • The reigning champions make in total four changes from their defeat at Worcester
Mako Vunipola has recovered from a knee injury to start for the champions as they look to bounce back against Gloucester at Kingsholm.

If Vunipola can get through his return without any complications, he is likely to be added to Eddie Jones’ England squad ahead of the Six Nations match against Italy at Twickenham on 26 February.

At lock, former Gloucester skipper Jim Hamilton is joined by Michael Rhodes whilst in the back row Will Fraser continues at blindside flanker with Schalk Burger (openside flanker) and Jackson Wray (No8) also named to start.


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In the backs, Saracens name Duncan Taylor in the starting XV for the first time this season. Taylor starts at full-back alongside Chris Ashton (right-wing) and Mike Ellery (left-wing) in the Saracens back three.

At centre, Marcelo Bosch returns to the number 13 jersey to partner skipper Brad Barritt whilst in the halves, Richard Wigglesworth (scrum-half) continues to partner Alex Lozowski (fly-half).



Meanwhile, Gloucester, who will be looking to bounce back after last Saturday’s reverse at Welford Road against Leicester Tigers, make three changes to their pack and two to the back-line.

Returning in the Gloucester midfield is centre Matt Scott, while David Halaifonua takes over from Henry Purdy on the left wing.

Up front, John Afoa is replaced at tighthead by Salesi Ma’afu, and Ben Morgan and Ross Moriarty return in the back row in place of Sione Kalamafoni and Lewis Ludlow respectively.

LINE UPS

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Callum Braley, 22 James Hook, 23 Henry Trinder
Saracens: 15 Duncan Taylor, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Mike Ellery, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Will Fraser, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Max Malins, 23 Matt Gallagher
Date: Friday, February 17
Venue: Kingsholm
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace, Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Grashoff
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