Heineken Cup semi-finals preview

Saracens v Clermont

Saracens have named an entire new team to take on Clermont at Twickenham tomorrow.

The Premiership have made 15 changes from the team that won 23-18 in Newcastle last week as they seek to reach their first ever Heineken Cup final.

Alex Goode starts at full-back and is joined by Europe most prolific wingers David Strettle and Chris Ashton in the back three.

Marcelo Bosch partners Brad Barritt in midfield whilst in the halves Owen Farrell is joined by the experienced Neil de Kock.

Up front, Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits and James Johnston make up the front row with captain Steve Borthwick and Mouritz Botha at lock.

Kelly Brown starts at blindside, with Premiership Player of the Season nominee Jacques Burger at openside. England international Billy Vunipola starts at No.8 to complete the back row.

Meanwhile, Clermont captain Aurelien Rougerie has failed to recover from a hamstring injury and had to withdraw.

He is replaced by Benson Stanley at outside centre with France star Wesley Fofana alongside him.

Lee Byrne and Sitiveni Sivivatu, who missed the quarter-final against Leicester, are fit again and start at full-back and on the wing respectively.

Fritz Lee and Damien Chouly lifted any doubts over their fitness earlier this week and they both start in the back row.

Veteran lock Julien Pierre will play his 50th Heineken Cup game at HQ should he come off the bench.

Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Owen Farrell, Neil de Kock; Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, James Johnston; Steve Borthwick (Capt.), Mouritz Botha; Kelly Brown, Jacques Burger, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jamie George, Richard Barrington, Matt Stevens, Alistair Hargreaves, Jackson Wray, Richard Wiggleworth, Tim Streather, Chris Wyles.

Clermont: Lee Byrne; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Benson Stanley ,Wesley Fofana, Naipolioni Nalaga; Brock James, Morgan Parra; Thomas Domingo, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili; Jamie Cudmore, Nathan Hines; Julien Bonnaire (Capt.), Damien Chouly, Fritz Lee.

Replacements: Ti’i Paulo, Vincent Debaty, Clément Ric, Julien Pierre, Gerhard Vosloo, Thierry Lacrampe, Mike Delany, Noa Nakaitaci.

Toulon v Munster

Jonny Wilkinson has recovered from the hamstring injury that troubled him for the past month and will captain Toulon in Marseille.

He take over from Frederic Michalak who drops out of the squad all together despite impressing in the Top 14 for the past three weeks.

Steffon Armitage remains at No.8 whit his brother Delon at full-back. Bryan Habana continues his return to action and will start in third consecutive game on the left wing for the Heineken Cup champions.

Meanwhile, hooker Damien Varley will captain Munster from hooker in the absence of Peter O’Mahony.

Donnacha Ryan, who has been battling with a foot injury since the Treviso game in March, did take part in this week’s training but has failed a late fitness test this morning.

Sean Dougall returns to a starting XV for the first time since Perpignan away in December and joins CJ Stander and James Coughlan in the back-row.

Penney keeps faith with the front-five that started in the quarter-final against Toulouse and with Casey Laulala recovering from a fractured bone in his hand the Irish side can call on the same back-line also.

With the change to the back-row Tommy O’Donnell is named in the replacements while James Cronin returns from a sprained ankle to also feature in the squad.

Toulon: Delon Armitage; Drew Mitchell, Mathieu Bastareaud, Matt Giteau, Bryan Habana; Jonny Wilkinson (Capt.), Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Xavier Chiocci, Craig Burden, Carl Hayman; Danie Rossouw, Jocelino Suta; Juan Smith, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Steffon Armitage.

Replacements: Jean-Charles Orioli, Alexandre Menini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Virgile Bruni, David Smith, Maxime Mermoz, Michael Claassens, Konstantine Mikautadze.

Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley (Capt.), BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell; CJ Stander, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, John Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Denis Hurley.

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