Billy Vunipola ‘refreshed’ ahead of Saracens return

1:47 PM GMT

Billy Vunipola will step up his return from injury when he starts for Saracens at Newcastle in the Aviva Premiership on Sunday.

England No. 8 Vunipola has not played since suffering ligament damage against Argentina in the autumn but will attempt to prove his fitness at Kingston.

Should he come through it will be a significant lift for England ahead of their final two Six Nations games, against Scotland and Ireland respectively.

Older brother Mako continues his own recovery at loosehead prop, while there are starts for Scotland internationals Sean Maitland and Duncan Taylor.

Maitland started Scotland’s opening two Six Nations matches, but missed the win over Wales with a rib injury.

“I’m really excited to be back out there this weekend. I’m feeling refreshed, the body feels great and I’m ready for what will be a really tough game up in Newcastle,” Vunipola said.

“I’d like to thank the whole medical team, especially our physio Laura Tulloch and our head of performance Phil Morrow, for their support throughout my time out.”

Newcastle host Saracens with an eye on the Premiership top six, with director of rugby Dean Richards making four changes to the side that lost at Exeter last time out.

Mark Wilson, Juan Pablo Socino, Kyle Cooper and Jon Welsh all return to the starting XV.

Elsewhere, England wing Anthony Watson and Wales duo Luke Charteris and Taulupe Faletau will all start for Bath against Wasps on Saturday.

Wasps have made just one change for the clash with Alapati Leiua coming in for the injured Kyle Eastmond.

Meanwhile, Worcester have made four changes to their starting lineup as they welcome Bristol to Sixways for a clash of the league’s bottom two.

Chris Pennell is due to start at fullback for the first time since Boxing Day, while Val Rapava Ruskin, Chris Vui and Marco Mama all return to the pack.

Bristol go into the game on the back of a win over Bath and acting head coach Mark Tainton has made only one change as Gaston Cortes replaces Anthony Perenise at tighthead.

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