Saracens v Mont de Marsan
October 12, 2008
Andy Farrell returns to the Saracens midfield on Sunday against Mont de Marsan © Getty Images
Andy Farrell and Chris Jack return to the starting line up as Saracens begin their European Challenge Cup campaign against Mont de Marsan at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Farrell is back in the starting line-up after missing the first six weeks of the campaign with a fracture-dislocation of the thumb while Jack has shaken off a shoulder injury he picked up against Northampton Saints two weeks ago.
"I'm delighted to be back," explained Farrell. "It was tough to go through all the hard work of pre-season and then get injured just as the games were about to start.
"But I've been able to turn that time off into a positive in terms of extra conditioning work and I am ready to go. It was particularly hard to be on the sidelines last week having seen my son Owen make his full debut for Saracens and not be out on the pitch to share that with him, but I can't wait to get out there this weekend."
Owen Farrell was one of six young players to make their debuts for Saracens last week in the Anglo-Welsh Cup clash against Llanelli Scarlets - but none of those are in action this weekend.
However, after an impressive performance on the wing, Noah Cato keeps his place in the side and there is also a full debut for USA international full back Chris Wyles.
Director of Rugby Eddie Jones has also recalled the likes of Steve Borthwick, Michael Owen, Glen Jackson and Cencus Johnston for the clash against the French side.
"This is a competition in which we want to do well but looking around the rest of the tournament, there are some very good sides involved this year," explained Jones. "Mont de Marsan have a proud history and having studied them over the past few weeks, we know they play with a lot of passion and spirit.
"Like most French teams, they have a strong scrum and have some dangerous backs so we will have to be on our guard. They may not have enjoyed the best of starts in the French league this season, but we have seen they are capable of playing some good rugby and put in a lot of effort and that is something we will have to better.
"But the only important thing for us this weekend is to improve as a team once again and put in a performance that will get us off and running in this competition with a victory."
Saracens: Chris Wyles, Noah Cato, Kevin Sorrell, Andy Farrell, Kameli Ratuvou, Glen Jackson, Neil de Kock, Matias Aguero, Fabio Ongaro, Census Johnston, Steve Borthwick, Hugh Vyvyan, Chris Jack, Andy Saull, Michael Owen
Replacements: Matt Cairns, Cobus Visagie, Kris Chesney, Ben Skirving, Mosese Rauluni, Gordon Ross, Francisco Leonelli
Mont De Marsan: Karim Abbad, Jean Baptiste Dubiao, Simon Ternisien, Murphy Taele, Baptiste Chedal-Bornu, Francois Tandonnet, Patrick Blanco, Trevor Leota, Ben Coutts, Jeandra Mynhardt, Rudolph Berek, Philip van Schalkwyk, Jerome Carre
Replacements: Cyriel Blanchard, Nicolas Etcheverry, Guillaume Leleu, Frederic Rawls, Roland Bernard, Yann Brethous, Frederic Urruty
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene