Saracens coach Brendan Venter has selected five South Africans in his match 22 for their game against UCT at Groote Schuur on Friday night.
England captain Steve Borthwick will lead the club, with the country’s U19 skipper Tom Ryder in the second row. Veteran All Black Justin Marshall and ex-Springbok Derick Hougaard will be at scrumhalf and flyhalf respectively.
Other familiar faces include former Sharks centre Brad Barritt – who has now thrown in his lot with England – ex-Lions No 8 Ernst Joubert, 2007 World Cup-winning Bok flank Wikus van Heerden and former Bok No 9 Neil de Kock.
De Kock and Van Heerden are on the bench, while Italian stars Carlos Nieto (tighthead prop) and Fabio Ongaro (hooker) will be in a battle-hardened front row.
Saracens arrived in South Africa on Thursday night for a two-match tour of Cape Town, which will see them in action against the Ikey Tigers’ 1st and 2nd XVs on Friday evening, before coming up against a WP Invitational outfit next Friday.
The two Saracens-UCT matches will kick off at 6.30pm and 8pm, and a lively crowd is expected at the Green Mile.
De Kock told varsitycup.co.za that he was looking forward to locking horns with UCT again, having last done so in the maroon jersey of Stellenbosch.
‘I’ve managed to catch some Varsity Cup highlights over here during the past two years and it’s great to see UCT doing so well and playing the brand of rugby that they do,’ he said.
‘They’ve been in the Varsity Cup play-off these past two years and their coach [John Dobson] has openly said he would like to finish on a high before taking his new coaching job in Italy next year.
‘UCT have always loved giving the ball some air and they’re bound to be a fit team at this stage of their season, so I’m expecting plenty of running on Friday night.
‘It will also be great to catch up with everyone afterwards and from what I’ve heard there should be a nice crowd and a great atmosphere [at UCT] on the night.’
Saracens – 15 Alex Goode, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Rod Penney, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Richard Haughton, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Don Barrell, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Rhys Gill.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Tom Mercey, 18 Wikus van Heerden, 19 Mosese Rauluni, 20 Neil de Kock, 21 Kameli Ratuvou.