England stars return for Saracens but captain Owen Farrell misses Bedford clash with strain

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Will Macpherson
·1-min read
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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Newly-appointed club captain Owen Farrell is the only one of SaracensEngland stars who will not take on Bedford Blues in the Championship on Sunday.

Farrell, who was confirmed as Brad Barritt’s replacement as club captain yesterday, misses out with a slight strain, but Sarries still welcome back Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly and the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, to a mighty side. Those four will make their first appearances since England’s chastening Six Nations defeat to Ireland last month.

Jamie George, who faced Richmond a fortnight ago in Sarries’ last fixture, captains the side in Farrell’s absence, while Scotland’s Sean Maitland – who came off the bench in that game – starts on the wing.

Mako Vunipola and George line up in an all-international front row alongside Springbok Vincent Koch, while Itoje is at lock. Billy Vunipola packs down at No8 as usual, meaning Jackson Wray shifts to openside flanker.

Getty Images
Getty Images

A third Vunipola, 20-year-old Manu, starts at fly-half with Farrell injured. Daly slots in at outside centre, his preferred position, alongside Scotland’s Duncan Taylor. The starting XV contains a total of eight internationals.

Saracens lost their opening Championship match, against Cornish Pirates, before securing bonus-point wins over Jersey and Richmond. As they chase promotion, that defeat leaves them little margin for error.

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