Sunday’s Aviva Premiership Team News
There are four Aviva Premiership fixtures on Sunday, with fourth-placed Northampton’s trip to second-placed Exeter arguably the pick of the bunch.
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints (15:00 kick-off)
Head coach Rob Baxter has told his second-in-the-table Exeter Chiefs squad to play without pressure in their remaining five games.
Despite collecting a maximum haul against Newcastle last time out, the Chiefs have tinkered with their winning formula.
In the pack, Ollie Atkins and Dave Ewers are recalled ahead of Lewis Stevenson and Julian Salvi; Dave Lewis is given the nod at scrum-half ahead of Will Chudley, while behind James Short’s inclusion means Ian Whitten reverts into the centre alongside Henry Slade.
That, in turn, means Sam Hill drops to the bench where he will be joined for the first time by Australian international Lachie Turner, who is poised to make his debut for the club since arriving last month.
Meanwhile, Northampton boss Jim Mallinder has made four changes to the one that claimed a bonus-point win over Sale last weekend.
Having made a return to first team action from the bench, Ahsee Tuala comes into the starting XV on the left wing. At fly-half, try scorer JJ Hanrahan is also in from the off for this encounter.
The Wallers swap on the loose head, elder brother Alex replacing Ethan, while a final change sees Jon Fisher wearing eight in the back row shuffle.
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Sam Hill, 23 Lachie Turner
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ahsee Tuala, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Jonathan Fisher, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Teimana Harrison, 5 Christian Day, 4 James Craig, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 James Wilson
Wasps v Sale Sharks ( 14:00 kick-off)
The Wasps backline remains unchanged for a fourth successive week, with just one change in the pack, where Nathan Hughes starts at eight in the place of the injured George Smith.
Simon McIntyre is set to make his 100th appearance for Wasps as he is named to start once again, while Sam Jones captains the side, in the absence of the injured George Smith.
The Wasps backline remains unchanged for a fourth successive week, with just one change in the pack, where Nathan Hughes starts at eight in the place of Smith, Sam Jones moving to six and Thomas Young to seven.
Meanwhile, Sale boss Steve Diamond has made nine changes to his starting line-up that lost at Northampton last weekend.
In the backline, Tom Brady and Nev Edwards replace Tom Arscott and Will Addison on the wings while Jonny Leota and Mark Jennings take over from Sam James and Sam Tuitupou in midfield.
Up front, Mark Easter comes in for TJ Ioane at number eight and Magnus Lund is preferred to Cameron Neild on the blindside flank while Jonathan Mills takes over from Bryn Evans in the second row.
The final changes are in the front row where Brian Mujati and Neil Briggs replace Vadim Cobilas and Tommy Taylor at tighthead prop and hooker respectively.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Sam Jones (c), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Cannon, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Jamie Stevenson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Brendan Macken
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Mark Easter 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Magnus Lund, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 James Flynn, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Sam James
London Irish v Gloucester (15:15 kick-off)
Bottom side London Irish have made two changes from the team that lost to Saracens in New Jersey last week, with Tom Court replacing Tom Smallbone at loose head and Will Lloyd coming in for Elliott Stooke at second in the row.
Exiles head coach Tom Coventry sticks with the same backline that served him well for large periods of last weekend’s 26-16 defeat to Saracens, with Greig Tonks retaining the fly-half berth.
Meanwhile, New Zealander Tom Marshall will make his Gloucester debut on Sunday when he lines up at full-back against London Irish.
Marshall joined Gloucester from the Chiefs this season but has been rehabbing from knee surgery. However, he is now ready to play his part during the end of season run-in.
His inclusion is one of three changes to the back line from last weekend’s defeat at Worcester.
Callum Braley, who replaced Willi Heinz after just six minutes at Sixways, starts at scrum-half while Henry Trinder takes over from David Halaifonua on the left wing.
There are two changes in the pack. Mariano Galarza comes in for Tom Savage and will partner Jeremy Thrush in the second row, while Lewis Ludlow will start at number eight in place of Ross Moriarty, who is on Six Nations duty with Wales.
Leicester Tigers v Saracens (15:15 kick-off)
Leaders Saracens welcome back hooker Schalk Brits from a three-week suspension, while fellow South African Alistair Hargreaves returns to the second row and Kelly Brown comes in at openside flanker.
In the back row, Kelly Brown comes in at openside flanker to join Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) and Jackson Wray (number eight).
In the backs, Alex Goode will return from Paris to start at full-back, and will join Mike Ellery and Chris Wyles in the Sarries back three.
At centre, Marcelo Bosch recovers from the illness that saw the Argentine as a late withdrawal from Saracens win over London Irish in New Jersey and is joined by Brad Barritt in midfield.
The evergreen Neil de Kock comes in at scrum-half and will join fly-half Nils Mordt in the halves.
Meanwhile, Owen Williams returns at fly-half for the hosts since his recovery from a broken jaw and will start at centre alongside Peter Betham this weekend.
Tommy Bell is at full-back with Mathew Tait ruled out after suffering a concussion at Wasps last weekend in the only other change to the backline.
Graham Kitchener comes into the second row alongside Dom Barrow, with Mike Fitzgerald moving to the back row and the team will be led by Jordan Crane, who starts at No8 in place of the injured Ed Slater.