All change for Twickenham showpiece
December 27, 2013
As spectators - and hopefully not players - dust off Christmas hangovers and flock to the weekend's Premiership matches, we look at the stats and the team news
A capacity crowd at Twickenham for the 2011 post-Christmas game © Getty Images
Harlequins v Exeter
Harlequins make three changes for the day's big game at Twickenham with inside centre Tom Casson, scrum-half Danny Care and tighthead prop Will Collier returning from injury to start. Exeter recall England flanker Tom Johnson at the expense of Kai Horstmann, who replaces Don Armand on the bench. Jason Shoemark starts at inside centre ahead of Sam Hill.
Last season: Harlequins 16 Exeter 27, Exeter 42 Harlequins 28
Leicester v Sale
Leicester captain Toby Flood remains injured so lock Louis Deacon captains the side. Mathew Tait is retained at full-back. The Tigers are strengthened by the return of international front rows Marcos Ayerza, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole. Sale have omitted Danny Cipriani from their starting XV with Nick Macleod named at fly-half. Tongan number eight Viliami Fahiki makes his debut and Mark Cueto moves to outside centre to cover for the injured Mark Jennings.
Last season: Leicester 48 Sale 10, Sale 8 Leicester 20
Northampton v Bath
Northampton are strengthened by the return of England forwards Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes. Hartley leads the team at hooker. George Pisi is named at outside centre after completing his suspension. Bath make just one change with Martin Roberts starting at scrum-half and Peter Stringer dropping to the bench.
Last season: Northampton 25 Bath 23, Bath 14 Northampton 18
Worcester v Saracens
Worcester give a first Premiership start to Andy Symons at inside centre. The only other change sees Leonardo Senatore come in for the injured Jonathan Thomas at No. 8. England centre Brad Barritt is named on Saracens' bench after a foot injury has sidelined him since the opening match of the season. Owen Farrell was concussed against Leicester so Charlie Hodgson starts at fly-half. David Strettle returns to the left wing after a brief spell in the treatment room.
Last season: Saracens 47 Worcester 17, Worcester 12 Saracens 3
London Irish v Gloucester
Former South Africa prop CJ Van Der Linde, a short-term signing until the end of the season, makes his debut for London Irish at tighthead prop. Blair Cowan starts at number eight in the absence of Chris Hala'ufia, who is banned for four weeks for a tip tackle. Gloucester are unchanged with England fly-half Freddie Burns named on the bench once more. England centre Billy Twelvetrees captains the side.
Last season: Gloucester 12 London Irish 18, London Irish 31 Gloucester 40
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time
As Ewen McKenzie exits stage left, the ARU remains under huge pressure, with CEO Bill Pulver feeling the brunt of Australian rugby's displeasure, Greg Growden writes
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.