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Owen Farrell injury deals huge blow to Saracens’ hopes in Bordeaux
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Owen Farrell injury deals huge blow to Saracens’ hopes in Bordeaux

Owen Farrell has suffered a setback in his quest to ensure his Saracens career ends on a high after he was ruled out of Saturday’s Champions Cup tie against Bordeaux with a hamstring injury.

Farrell picked up the injury in last week’s defeat by Northampton, meaning the former England captain may have played his final match in the competition for Saracens before heading to Racing 92 next season.

Farrell has won the Champions Cup three times with Saracens but is set to be out for “the next few weeks”, so he would also miss the quarter-finals next week should Mark McCall’s side triumph in France. The regular Premiership season finishes in six weeks’ time with Saracens currently third and vying for a playoff spot.

In his absence, Jamie George will deputise as captain for a side aiming to avenge their 55-15 defeat by Bordeaux in the pool stages. Alex Goode comes into the side at fly-half while McCall welcomes Maro Itoje back for a first appearance for the club since the Six Nations with the second row now recovered from a knee injury.

In another pool stage rematch, Leicester travel to Dublin to face Leinster with Freddie Steward, who lost his England place at fullback during the Six Nations, named on the wing. Dan Cole also returns to the side as one of three changes to the side who edged past Newcastle last time out. The Leicester head coach, Dan McKellar, said: “We’re excited to get over to Dublin and rip into this challenge. Their record speaks for itself but, like any game of rugby, if you can apply pressure and deny opportunity consistently, you’ll give yourself a great chance to be in the contest.

“We’ve got a lot of experience and fight in this group so outside of these walls is irrelevant to us; we’ll turn up to the Aviva on Saturday night ready to go with a bucket load of belief.”

In the all Premiership last-16 tie, Exeter host Bath, who recall Charlie Ewels, Sam Underhill, Alfie Barbeary and Joe Cokanasiga to their starting lineup. The Chiefs lost to Sale last time out and Rob Baxter is hoping for a response.

“They’ve got a very strong team across the board,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of resilience amongst the group, so it’s going to be a significant challenge for us this weekend but, at the same time, it’ll be nice to have them at our place.

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“We certainly had a kick in the pants from the result against Sale last weekend, so there’s not too much for us to take out of that apart from that it highlighted that you’ve got to be the team that turns up. I would think this weekend’s game will still have all the main ingredients of a Premiership match since it’s two league sides going up against one another. We’ve got to perform better than last week but we’ve also got to be excited that it’s a knockout game here at Sandy Park in front of a sellout crowd. So, we’ve got to hope that that brings a level of performance out of us that we can be proud of.”

On SundayNorthampton welcome Munster to Franklin’s Gardens having pulled off a fine victory at Thomond Park in January. Lewis Ludlam comes into the side and captains Northampton while Alex Mitchell is primed to return from injury having been named among the replacements.

Source: theguardian.com