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Exeter welcome big name back for Saracens clash

Published 06/02/2016

Exeter centre Sam Hill, pictured, is fit again after ankle and hamstring injuries
Exeter centre Sam Hill, pictured, is fit again after ankle and hamstring injuries

Exeter have been given a boost ahead of their table-topping clash with Saracens with England squad centre Sam Hill available to play.

Hill is the first of a batch of Exeter's England hopefuls to return to action, with Henry Slade hoping to be back from his broken leg in six weeks.

The Chiefs host Saracens on Sunday knowing victory could take them top of the Aviva Premiership table, with coach Rob Hunter hoping Exeter can cash in.

"It's a big game and while it's a top of the table clash sometimes you have to pinch yourself and remember that it's only the halfway point of the season," Hunter told Exeter's official club website.

"There's still a lot of rugby to be played between now and the end of the season.

"You don't want to get too tied up with the fact that it's first versus second but on the other hand it's a fantastic position if we win, because we would go top."

Saracens' line-up is heavily affected by Six Nations call-ups, but boss Mark McCall can still field Scotland flanker Kelly Brown and Italy-qualified number eight Samu Vunisa.

"Are they full strength? Probably not," said Exeter coach Hunter of Saracens' line-up.

"But at the same time they still have a lot of quality in depth within their squad.

"You always have to be very well prepared. They are massively professional in what they do and they are fantastically coached.

"Mark McCall is one of the best head coaches in the Premiership and he brings together his team and his coaches in a way that is very impressive."

Sunday's other Premiership clash comes at the other end of the league table, with hosts London Irish desperate for a win against Worcester Warriors.

Basement club Irish are itching for a victory that would boost their relegation plight, while Worcester will attempt to ease the gap between themselves and the trap door.

Irish's record try-scorer Topsy Ojo will make his 250th club appearance in the Worcester clash, racking up that hefty return after joining the the Londoners in 2003.

Irish boss Tom Coventry will hope Ojo can add to his impressive return of 71 tries in 249 appearances this weekend.

"We are delighted and very proud of Topsy's achievements in reaching this impressive milestone.

"It is a special moment in his career and we will do our best to celebrate with a good performance on Sunday."

Flanker Matt Cox starts for Worcester, with both sides hunting just their third win of the campaign.

Worcester boss Dean Ryan knows victory could hand a significant boost to the Warriors' battle to stay in the top flight.

"Irish are a side we would expect to be competitive with and have a chance of winning against," said Ryan.

"We're very much looking forward to the challenge of seeing the things we've done well against good sides and if that can really transfer into a contest with a side that's probably operating at similar levels to ourselves."

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