Owen Farrell was a teenager playing like an old-timer the last time Sarries and Leicester clashed in a Twickenham final, in 2011, kicking soaring touchline conversions and fitting seamlessly into a side captained by Steve Borthwick, the current Tigers’ head coach. Now, at 30, he is an old-timer seeking to regain some of that youthful energy.
The Leicester head coach Borthwick has opted to bring two former Saracens into his starting lineup, with the veteran Richard Wigglesworth at No 9 and Chris Ashton coming in on the wing. The England scrum-half Ben Youngs starts on the bench. There is one change for Saracens with the lock Nick Isiekwe coming into the starting lineup for Tim Swinson.
Leicester: Freddie Steward, Chris Ashton, Matías Moroni, Guy Porter, Harry Potter, George Ford, Richard Wigglesworth; Ellis Genge (capt.), Julián Montoya, Dan Cole, Ollie Chessum, Calum Green, Hanro Liebenberg (vc), Tommy Reffell, Jasper Wiese. Replacements: Charlie Clare, Nephi Leatigaga, Joe Heyes, Harry Wells, George Martin, Ben Youngs, Freddie Burns, Matt Scott
Saracens: Alex Goode, Max Malins, Elliot Daly, Nick Tompkins, Sean Maitland, Owen Farrell (capt.), Aled Davies; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Vincent Koch, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Theo McFarland, Ben Earl, Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Kapeli Pifeleti, Eroni Mawi, Alec Clarey, Jackson Wray, Andy Christie, Ivan van Zyl, Duncan Taylor, Alex Lozowski
Will it be blood and thunder or thud and blunder? At the culmination of a Premiership season often characterized by attacking ambition and expansive, running rugby, two sides built on defensive discipline, structure and set-piece efficiency will grapple for the title at Twickenham this afternoon.
Leicester have already made history by becoming the first team to top the Premiership table after every round of the regular season. They eventually finished seven points clear of second-placed Saracens, their opponents today, and there can be no doubt Steve Borthwick’s Tigers were the best and most consistent side throughout a campaign which began more than nine months ago. But Saracens, back in the top flight following the deeply damaging salary cap scandal, have immediately created an opportunity for themselves to consign all of that to the past.
Harlequins and Northampton, the two more artful sides left standing at the end of 26 rounds, both fell in the playoff semi-finals, leaving these two traditional heavyweights of the domestic game to fight it out. The Saracens and England fly-half Owen Farrell has never lost a Premiership final – he has won five – but the 10-times champions Leicester, for whom captain Ellis Genge and George Ford both play their final matches, will be utterly determined to justify their No 1 billing.
Team news, pre-match reading and much more coming up.