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Saracens name team to tackle Wasps

19 December 2003

Rod Kafer makes five changes to the team that played Roma for the trip to rivals London Wasps on Sunday as Saracens return to Zurich Premiership action. With Richard Hill, Kyran Bracken and Taine Randell unavailable due to the England v Barbarians match Rod sticks with his back row of Chesney, Russell and Skirving but in the front row Robbie Russell and Emiliano Bergamaschi come in for Raphael Ibanez and Steven Sparks who move to the bench.

In the back line Adryan Winnan starts at full back after an impressive display last weekend and England Sevens star Richard Haughton returns to the wing after a fortnight away on the IRB World Series circuit. The final change to the starting line up comes as Denis Cech moves to his preferred outside centre berth with Nicky Little taking a place on the bench where he is joined by Tony Roques.

The trip to rivals Wasps has been a tough one in recent seasons in with the Wycombe based side being the current Champions this Sunday's visit will be no different. In the home fixture earlier this year Saracens were embarrassed 3-42 at Vicarage Road but the signs are hopeful that those days are behind the Men in Black with the arrival of some key personnel up front.

The welcome return of speedster Richard Haughton is timely and with the impressive Denis Cech and rejuvenated Adryan Winnan waiting in the wings Saracens' mercurial Thomas Castaignede will have plenty of willing runners to set loose from his fly half position.

"We've brought Emiliano (Bergamaschi) back in at loose head after giving him a rest last weekend," explained Rod, "and he is joined by Robbie (Russell) at hooker as he is probably a week ahead of Raphael (Ibanez) as far as preparation goes. They're both World Class players and it's great to have them both competing for the position.

"We're pleased with the progress Alex (Codling) has been making and he will start his fourth game in a row alongside Simon (Raiwalui) in the second row while our back row remains unchanged with both Richard (Hill) and Taine (Randell) playing in the England v Baa Baas game. I've read all the comments about the timing of the game etc and really don't know what all the fuss is about. Sure it's a shame not to have Richard, Kyran and Taine in the team but we all knew what was coming and have had time to plan for it. It's disappointing that some clubs are not standing by the decision made and are complaining publicly undoing a lot of the hard work put in which was supposed to be for the good of the game and to take it forward!"

"The reality for us is that we're going to have to be absolutely at our best because Wasps are one of the form teams in the premiership and Europe at the moment. We have the potential to beat Wasps but potential doesn't win matches, as was shown in the home leg earlier this season where we were all bitterly disappointed with the performance.

"We have been working hard over the last few weeks knowing how big our next three games are and the game on Sunday is an important stepping stone onto our two home games over the festive period. We need a good performance to carry us through to the games on the 27th December and New Years' Day and the players are well aware of what is needed."

15) Adryan Winnan
14) Richard Haughton
13)Denis Cech
12) Ben Johnston*
11) Darragh O'Mahony*
10) Thomas Castaignede*
9) Morgan Williams*

1) Emiliano Bergamaschi*
2) Robbie Russell*
3) Cobus Visagie*
4) Simon Raiwalui* (C)
5) Alex Codling*
6) Kris Chesney
7) Ben Russell
8) Ben Skirving

16) Raphael Ibanez*
17) Steven Sparks
18) Ben Broster
19) Tony Roques
20) Dan Kirton
21) Nicky Little*
22) Daniel Legge