Sarries aim to prolong Exiles' woes
Saracens will hope to consolidate their place in the Aviva Premiership play-off zone on Sunday by inflicting more misery on London Irish.
And in doing so, they would give Brendan Venter an ideal send-off from his job as rugby director. Venter, who is returning home to South Africa, will retain a role with the club as technical director, although day-to-day management becomes Irishman Mark McCall's territory from next week.
But Venter knows his team will need an improved performance from the one which saw them lose 28-22 to Sale last weekend, and said: "We were very disappointed with the result against Sale. Despite expecting a frantic and physical match, we just didn't deal with it. But we have talked about that this week, and I am sure those lessons have been learned."
He added: "We are looking ahead to what should be an excellent game between two very good teams.
"London Irish haven't had the results they would have liked in recent weeks, but they have a squad full of quality players and a very good coaching staff, so we are expecting a tough battle."
Wales star Gavin Henson, who featured at outside centre against Sale, drops to the bench at Vicarage Road, with Michael Tagicakibau partnering Brad Barritt in midfield and England international David Strettle returning on the wing.
There are also starts for prop Carlos Nieto and number eight Kelly Brown, while Irish head coach Toby Booth also makes changes as the Exiles strive to avoid a 10th successive loss in all competitions.
Dan Bowden is switched from centre to fly-half, replacing Chris Malone, who wears the number 15 shirt instead of Delon Armitage. Armitage is rested under England elite squad requirements, with one other change seeing centre Seilala Mapusua in for Elvis Seveali'i.
Irish have not won in the Premiership since they beat Sale on October 31. Five league defeats, two Heineken Cup losses and a couple of LV= Cup reversals comprise the sorry tally of defeats, yet coach Toby Booth remains upbeat, especially as Irish remain just two points adrift of the play-off places.
"Last week we made massive strides (against Bath), scoring three great tries in a very committed performance," said Booth. "The squad remains extremely focused and are determined to get back to winning ways."