A look ahead to the weekend’s quarter-finals...
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs, Ricoh Arena, 3.15pm (BT Sports).
Full-back Charles Piutau returns from injury for Wasps for today’s Champions Cup tie, while Joe Simpson is on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury picked up in January. England flanker James Haskell is joined by hooker Carlo Festuccia and second row Kearnan Myall in the forwards. Exeter full-back Phil Dollman is out after injuring his calf last week and is replaced by Lachie Turner while Geoff Parling and Mitch Lees form the second row.
No. 8 Thomas Waldrom scored a hat-trick as Exeter won 41-27 in the team’s Premiership meeting in December, but the Chiefs are likely to face a stiffer test this time with Wasps having won 10 of their past 11 matches. Wasps lifted the Heineken Cup in 2004 and 2007; Exeter — second in the Premiership — are hoping to make their first semi-final in Europe’s top-tier competition.
C Piutau; C Wade, E Daly, S Piutau, F Halai; J Gopperth, D Robson; M Mullan, C Festuccia, J Cooper-Woolley, J Launchbury, K Myall, J Haskell (c), G Smith, N Hughes.
A Johnson, S McIntyre, L Cittadini, B Davies, T Young, J Simpson, R Jackson, R Miller.
L Turner; J Nowell, H Slade, I Whitten, O Woodburn; G Steenson (c), W Chudley; B Moon, L Cowan-Dickie, M Low, M Lees, G Parling, D Armand, J Salvi, T Waldrom.
J Yeandle, A Hepburn, H Williams, D Welch, D Ewers, D Lewis, M Campagnaro, J Short.
Saracens v Northampton Saints, Allianz Park, 5.45pm (Sky Sports).
Winger Chris Wyles and flanker Jackson Wray come in as Saracens make two changes to the side that won at Bath last week. Billy Vunipola, George Kruis, and Maro Itoje — key members of England’s Grand Slam-winning side — all start. Luther Burrell is included at inside centre for Northampton after missing the 28-6 defeat by Wasps on Sunday. But hooker Dylan Hartley is still out with concussion while scrum-half Lee Dickson also has a head knock. Prop Kieran Brookes is another addition to an injury list that includes flanker Tom Wood, wing George North and number-eight Sam Dickinson. Jamie Elliott comes in on the wing, while Courtney Lawes shifts from second row to blind-side flanker. Saints beat a Saracens side missing its England internationals at Allianz Park in March and a repeat would see them reach the semi-finals of Europe’s top-tier competition for the first time since their run to the 2011 Heineken Cup final. However, Sarries were the only side to progress from the group stages undefeated and it is 904 days since they last lost a home match in the competition.
A Goode; C Ashton, D Taylor, B Barritt (c), C Wyles; O Farrell, R Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, S Brits, P du Plessis, M Itoje, G Kruis, J Wray, W Fraser, B Vunipola.
J Saunders, R Barrington, T Lamositele, A Hargreaves, M Rhodes, N de Kock, M Bosch, B Ransom.
B Foden (c); K Pisi, G Pisi, L Burrell, J Elliott; S Myler, K Fotuali’i; A Waller, M Haywood, P Hill, J Craig, C Day, C Lawes, B Nutley, T Harrison.
R Marshall, C Ma’afu, G Denman, V Matfield, M Paterson, T Kessell, JJ Hanrahan, H Mallinder.
J Garces (France).
Leicester Tigers v Stade Français, Welford Road, 1.45pm (BT Sports).
Back-rowers Brendon O’Connor, Lachlan McCaffrey and Mike Fitzgerald return to the Leicester Tigers line-up.
O’Connor came through his first appearance following injury last weekend as Tigers recorded a bonus-point win over Gloucester in the Premiership and is joined in the back row by Fitzgerald and McCaffrey, who both sat out the last two weeks.
In the backline, Mathew Tait returns at full-back and captains the team, with Telusa Veainu switching to the wing. Freddie Burns joins Youngs at half-back.
Club captain Ed Slater joins Logovi’i Mulipola and Tom Croft in the replacements.
Stade Français make 10 changes from their last match, a 21-18 Top 14 loss to La Rochelle. Djibril Camara switches from wing to full-back as France centre Jonathan Danty returns in midfield, with Jérémy Sinzelle is on the left wing. Ex-Tigers scrum-half Julien Dupuy and Morné Steyn make up the half-backs, while Sergio Parisse returns to captain the side from No.8. Jono Ross, Alexandre Flanquart, Remi Bonfils, and Zurabi Zhvania are the other changes to the Parisian side’s pack.
M Tait (c); T Veainu, P Betham, M Tuilagi, V Goneva; F Burns, B Youngs; M Ayerza, H Thacker, D Cole, D Barrow, G Kitchener, M Fitzgerald, B O’Connor, L McCaffrey.
G Bateman, L Mulipola, F Balmain, E Slater, T Croft, S Harrison, O Williams, A Thompstone.
D Camara; W Vuidarvuwalu, G Doumayrou, J Danty, J Sinzelle; M Steyn, J Dupuy; Z Zhvania, R Bonfils, R Slimani, H Pyle, A Flanquart, J Ross, R Lakafia, S Parisse (c).
C Burden, D Priso, P Alo Emile, P Gabrillagues, W Alberts, J Tomas, J Plisson, H Bonneval.
N Owens (Wales).
Racing 92 v RC Toulon, Stade Yves-du-Manoir, 4.15pm (Sky Sports).
Racing 92 have made 10 changes for their quarter-final with holders Toulon. Johan Goosen switches from full-back to outside centre, allowing for the return of Brice Dulin in the 15 jersey, while Juan Imhoff returns on the left wing. Maxime Machenaud and Dan Carter get the nod at half-back having been rested last week in the Top 14 win over Bordeaux-Bègles.
There are two new faces in the back row as Chris Masoe starts at No 8 against his old club, with Bernard le Roux at No.7
Wales lock Luke Charteris returns in the second row, while Luc Ducalcon and Dimitri Szarzewski get the nod up front.
Toulon miss the injured Drew Mitchell but France captain Guilhem Guirado starts. Delon Armitage takes Mitchell’s place at full-back as Maxime Mermoz returns to partner Ma’a Nonu in midfield, with Mathieu Bastareaud benched. James O’Connor and Matt Giteau both return on the wing and at fly-half. Steffon Armitage drops to the bench, replaced by Charles Ollivon, with Toulon’s only other change in the pack being the replacement of Alexandre Menini by Florian Fresia at loosehead prop.
B Dulin; J Rokocoko, J Goosen, A Dumoulin, J Imhoff; D Carter, M Machenaud; Eddy Ben A, D Szarzewski (c), L Ducalcon, L Charteris, F van der Merwe, W Lauret, B Le Roux, C Masoe.
C Chat, K Vartanov, M Castrogiovanni, Y Nyanga, M Carizza, M Phillips, R Tales, M Andreu.
D Armitage; J Tuisova, M Mermoz, M Nonu, J O’Connor; M Giteau, J Pelissie; F Fresia, G Guirado (c), M Saulo, M Gorgodze, R Taofifenua, J Smith, C Ollivon, D Vermeulen.
JC Orioli, X Chiocci, L Chilachava, S Armitage, M Bastareaud, T Taylor, E Escande, T Lassale.
W Barnes (England).
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