TOP BAR - Fixtures

Kruis returns for Saracens for Bristol trip

Saracens have named their side to face Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate in round five of the Aviva Premiership, Friday kick-off 19h45.

George Kruis makes his comeback from a back injury that has ruled him out of the last three Premiership fixtures. The England international lock forward is reunited with Maro Itoje in the second row.

Saracens also welcome back Schalk Burger into the fold, with the experienced South African loose-forward named alongside Jackson Wray (blindside flanker) and Billy Vunipola (No8) in the back row.

In the front row, Mako Vunipola will face his former side at loose-head prop, and is joined by Jamie George (hooker) and Petrus Du Plessis (tighthead). Schalk Brits is ruled out of the game with a knock.

In the backs, Matt Gallagher will make his Saracens debut on the left wing – the England U20s three-quarter will link up with Mike Ellery (right wing) and Chris Wyles (full-back) in the Sarries back three. Alex Goode is nursing a slight knee injury sustained in the round four defeat to Harlequins and hasn’t been risked.

England Saxons centre Nick Tompkins rotates with Marcelo Bosch at outside centre and will line up alongside skipper Brad Barritt who starts in the number twelve jersey. In the halves, Alex Lozowski continues at fly-half and he is joined by Ben Spencer at scrumhalf. The England Saxons halfback rotates with Richard Wigglesworth, who is named on the bench.

Speaking ahead of the game, Mark McCall said: “Bristol have proved how competitive the are at home already this season, and we’re well aware that a trip to Ashton Gate under the lights will be a tough examination for us. We’re running low on a few bodies in the backs, but that gives us the chance to blood a few youngsters and we’re looking forward to seeing how they meet the challenge tomorrow night.

“We’ve enjoyed a strong training week, and the group are all eager to get out there on Friday.”

On Saracens’ absentees, McCall added: “Owen Farrell has a back problem, which we’re continuing to monitor. It’s really a day-by-day thing with Owen at the moment – it’s a bit of an open-ended injury which is always frustrating for the player and the Club, but we won’t risk him. Alex (Goode) and Schalk (Brits) picked up a knocks against Harlequins and they were both touch and go for tomorrow evening, but we have a long season ahead and they both miss out on this occasion. Sean Maitland has a knee injury and he is nearing return, whilst other guys such as Will Fraser (hip), Duncan Taylor (ankle) and Tim Streather (leg) are a bit further away from a return to action and we’ll manage their return to play accordingly.”

Saracens side to face Bristol Rugby

15 Chris Wyles (210)
14 Mike Ellery (26)
13 Nick Tompkins (38)
12 Brad Barritt (c) (175)
11 Matt Gallagher (0)
10 Alex Lozowski (4)
9 Ben Spencer (76)

1 Mako Vunipola (104)
2 Jamie George (153)
3 Petrus De Plessis (135)
4 Maro Itoje (56)
5 George Kruis (125)
6 Jackson Wray (147)
7 Schalk Burger (3)
8 Billy Vunipola (64)

Replacements
16 Scott Spurling (16)
17 Richard Barrington (86)
18 Juan Figallo (38)
19 Jim Hamilton (52)
20 Michael Rhodes (31)
21 Richard Wigglesworth (159)
22 Marcelo Bosch (71)
23 George Perkins (2)

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