South African speedster Brent Russell has lost his battle to be fit for Saracens’ Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Munster at The Ricoh Stadium, Coventry on Sunday.

Russell injured a hamstring in the quarter-final win over the Ospreys and has failed to recover in time for the biggest club game in Saracens’ history.

It means that wing Richard Haughton moves in at full back and Argentinean international Francisco Leonelli, a try scorer as a replacement against the Ospreys, comes into the starting line-up on the right wing.

Adam Powell retains his place at centre following his strong performance against the Ospreys after coming on to replace the injured Andy Farrell. Farrell is ruled out until next season.

Other than that, the side is the same that turned the tables on the EDF Energy Cup winners in the quarter-final.

“We had to make some tough decisions and there were some disappointed players,” explained Saracens coach Alan Gaffney. “Everyone in the squad realises that this is a huge stage to play on and we’ve picked a side which we believe can win the game.” 

Saracens stormed into their first Heineken Cup semi-final by smashing the Ospreys into submission in the last round. 

The Hertfordshire club sent the west Wales region crashing out despite being massive underdogs having lost heavily to the Ospreys the previous weekend.

But on the big occasion it was Saracens who found themselves celebrating at the final whistle, the Ospreys were grounded and Alan Gaffney had masterminded a meeting with his former side in the semi-finals.

Munster made it to the final four of Europe toughest competition for the sixth time by grinding out at victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm.

The 2006 Heineken Cup winners showed all their experience to see off Dean Ryan’s much fancied side on their home patch with a controlled display that nullified then many threats in the Gloucester backline.

These two sides haven’t met in Europe for eight seasons after being pooled together in the 1999/2000 season. Munster won both those matches, but only just. Both games were free scoring with the Irish side sneaking the results 31-30 and 34-35.