Vunipola fit to start for Saracens against Exeter in Premiership final

London (AFP) –


Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola will start Saturday's Premiership final against defending champions Exeter at Twickenham after recovering from a tight hamstring.

The England international went off at half-time during the semi-final last weekend but is fit to start in a Saracens side that is unchanged from the one that crushed Wasps 57-33.

Vunipola returned from a fractured arm against London Irish last month, only to be struck by the hamstring complaint that has limited his game-time ahead of England's forthcoming three-Test series against South Africa.

Saracens' Wales wing Liam Williams again misses out because of a shoulder injury while Schalk Burger (hamstring), Calum Clark (arm) and Duncan Taylor (back) also remain sidelined.

Chris Wyles continues instead of Williams in his final game of professional rugby before retirement, and hooker Schalk Brits who also bids farewell this weekend, is among the replacements.

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said: "We are delighted to name the same 23 as the semi-final for Saturday's game.

"We are hugely grateful to the staff and entire playing group for their commitment throughout the campaign to get us in this position. Everyone has contributed hugely to get us to where we want to be."

Exeter have also named the same matchday squad that beat Newcastle 36-5 last week, meaning Don Armand captains the side and Joe Simmonds gets the nod at fly-half.

Just four of last season's starting side -- Luke Cowan-Dickie, Armand, Jack Nowell and Olly Woodburn -- start this time.

"I know there are only four starting that started last year, but it is a little bit false because we have a numerous number of the bench and a couple of guys running full on with the squad now and just getting back from injury," said Exeter rugby director Rob Baxter.


Saracens (15-1)

Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Alex Lozowski, Brad Barritt (capt), Chris Wyles, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Billy Vunipola, Jackson Wray, Nick Isiekwe, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Vincent Koch, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Richard Barrington, Juan Figallo, Will Skelton, Michael Rhodes, Ben Spencer, Marcelo Bosch, Nathan Earle

Exeter (15-1)

Lachie Turner, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Sam Hill, Olly Woodburn, Joe Simmonds, Nic White, Sam Simmonds, Don Armand (capt), Dave Ewers, Jonny Hill, Mitch Lees, Tomas Francis, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Alec Hepburn

Replacements: Jack Yeandle, Ben Moon, Greg Holmes, Sam Skinner, Thomas Waldrom, Stuart Townsend, Gareth Steenson, Ian Whitten