England star Owen Farrell named in Saracens squad to take on Leinster in Champions Cup quarter-finals

England fly-half returns for Champions Cup clash while Barritt praises Irish side and Munster get set to welcome Toulon

Andrew Baldock 2018/03/30

England star Owen Farrell has been named in the Saracens team for Sunday’s European Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Leinster.

Farrell suffered a quad muscle injury during England’s Six Nations loss to Ireland at Twickenham 13 days ago.

Saracens Rugby director Mark McCall said earlier this week that Farrell probably had a 50-50 chance of making the Leinster game. He missed last Saturday’s Aviva Premiership victory over Harlequins.

But the fly-half, who was last season’s Champions Cup top points-scorer, is set to start in Dublin, with his fellow England international Alex Lozowski on the replacements’ bench.

Lock George Kruis, who also sat out the Quins game, has recovered from a back injury to partner Maro Itoje in the second-row, while prop Mako Vunipola returns to the starting XV and captain Brad Barritt features after having surgery on a fractured cheekbone in midweek.

Barritt, meanwhile, believes the Champions Cup holders will face “the form team in Europe” this weekend.

Leinster, packed with members of Ireland’s Six Nations title and Grand Slam-winning team, cruised through their qualifying group by claiming six successive victories and collecting 27 points from a possible 30, leaving Exeter, Montpellier and Glasgow in their slipstream.

“We know what is on the line now, we know we are playing against the form team in Europe,” former England centre Barritt said.

“However, we know as the Saracens team when we are close to what we can do in terms if our performance, we go there with full confidence.

“This team has always thrived on these big occasions and going to these big stadiums. We got a taste for it last year with the semi-final at the Aviva Stadium against Munster.

Brad Barritt claims Sarries face Europe’s form team this weekend.

“We were outnumbered in fans and in not having the comfort you have at home, but this team is galvanised by these experiences.

“We had a similar challenge in 2013, when we finished as eighth seed and had to go to Ravenhill for Ulster, who were the top seeds. It was probably an even more daunting environment in terms of a passionate home crowd.

“Playing at the Aviva Stadium is probably a little bit in our favour in that it is not Leinster’s out and out home ground. They don’t play there every week.

“It is a huge opportunity for this team (Saracens) to stake a claim. Win this game and you are in the hunt and you have a semi-final in your own country.”

Munster and Toulon, two teams with five European titles between them, meet at Thomond Park in Limerick on Saturday, while there is an all-French clash on Sunday when Clermont Auvergne host Racing 92.

Peter O’Mahony and Munster welcome Toulon to Thomond Park.

“We’ve come up against Toulon a few times, and the calibre of player they have is incredible,” Munster captain and Ireland Grand Slam winner Peter O’Mahony told www.munsterRugby.ie.

“We can talk about them all day, but we’ve got to have a good look at ourselves as well and put our best foot forward on Saturday.

“If we play averagely, or just above average, we will probably have a good score put on us. So we have to have the best performance of the season so far if we are going to be in with a shot.”

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