Saracens v Leicester (Sat)

Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi has had an injury-hit season and has only played 11 games for Tigers

Saracens are unchanged from the side that won the European Champions Cup against Racing 92 last Saturday.

Premiership player of the year Alex Goode starts at full-back, with Chris Ashton and Chris Wyles on the wings.

Leicester Tigers recall Manu Tuilagi, Mike Fitzgerald and Brendon O’Connor.

Tuilagi and Fitzgerald missed the last two games of the season, while O’Connor starts in the back row for the first time since the European Champions Cup quarter-final win over Stade Francais.

Back-to-back bid

Saracens are looking to add a second successive Premiership title to their maiden European crown, which they won courtesy of a 21-9 victory over Racing 92 last weekend.

Sarries finished top of the Premiership table after winning their final five league games of the regular season, with their last defeat coming at Leicester on 20 March.

Tigers are contesting their 12th successive Premiership semi-final, but were beaten at this stage by Northampton and Bath respectively in the last two seasons.

The Welford Road side contested nine consecutive Premiership finals between 2005 and 2013, winning the title four times.

Saracens hooker Schalk Brits told the club’s website:

“You want to prove and show everyone why you’re European champions. Going onto the pitch against the Tigers this weekend, they’re not going to say ‘oh you’re the champs’, they’re going to come here and try to smash us.

“I respect the team hugely. They’re always up for a fight and they’re always there to have a proper battle. They come to play rugby and we’re looking forward to that.

“Both sides are very proud about their set-piece. We use it as an attacking platform, same as Leicester, so the one that dominates that will highly likely win the game.

“Of course there’s certain things that can go against you with penalties and all kinds of things, but if you can dominate there, from their point of view and our point of view, the battle is half won.”

Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill told BBC Leicester Sport:

“It’s huge. We have been to Allianz a few times and have never won there and have never won on that plastic pitch. But this is a different scenario and is a great opportunity for us.

“They already have a trophy in the cabinet, they are are European champions and we have to go to their home ground, so it is all for us to do. But it is great motivation; these are the games you want to play in.

“It could be one hell of a game. The set-piece battle will be massive. They did a job on us down there last time, and our set-piece won us the battle when we played them at home.

“If we can put our defence, attack and set-piece together we are as good as any side. But we are probably yet to do that for 80 minutes. The pitch should suit us. It’s fast and that’s how we want to play.”

Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Taylor, Barritt (capt), Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M. Vunipola, Brits, Du Plessis, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Fraser, B. Vunipola.

Replacements: George, Barrington, Figallo, Hamilton, Wray, De Kock, Hodgson, Bosch.

Leicester Tigers: Tait (capt); Veainu, Betham, Tuilagi, Goneva; Williams, B. Youngs; Ayerza, Thacker, Cole, Barrow, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, O’Connor, McCaffrey.

Replacements: Ghiraldini, Genge, Mulipola, Slater, Evans, Kitto, Bell, Thompstone.

Referee: JP Doyle.

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