Preview: Leicester Tigers v Munster

Date published: December 16 2016

Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s Champions Cup match with Munster at Welford Road.

After defeat at Thomond Park last week, Tigers have included Jack Roberts, Pat Cilliers and Luke Hamilton in the team.

Roberts, who made his European Cup debut as a replacement last weekend, comes into the team at centre, with Owen Williams moving to fly-half after injury to Freddie Burns.

Director of rugby Cockerill names South Africa international Cilliers at tighthead prop, with Hamilton in the back row alongside Brendon O’Connor and Lachlan McCaffrey.

There is also a return among the replacements for Mike Williams after his recovery from injury.

Meanwhile, Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has named an unchanged starting line-up for this fixture.

There is one change on the replacements bench as loosehead prop James Cronin, who scored two tries on his return from injury for Munster A last week, takes the place of Thomas du Toit.

An outstanding team performance saw Munster inflict a heavy defeat on Leicester in Thomond Park last Saturday and, as expected, Erasmus has stuck with the same starting side.

Last week’s Man of the Match CJ Stander is set to make his 20th appearance in the Champions Cup having made a round-high 18 carries last time round.

Darren Sweetnam keeps his place on the right wing and has started all 13 of Munster’s games so far this season. A daunting task awaits Munster – since the back-to-back fixtures were introduced in 1999, Leicester have never lost both games.

However, Munster are the only side to beat Leicester more than once at Welford Road in Europe – in 2003 (quarter-final) and in 2006 (pool match).

Form: Leicester Tigers were powerless last weekend to stop Munster from cruising to a bonus-point 38-0 triumph to take control of European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 1. The men from Thomond Park sit top, despite playing a game less than Glasgow Warriors and Leicester. Before that defeat at Thomond Park, the Tigers lost their opener to Glasgow Warriors but bounced back by beating Racing 92 in their second fixture. A third successive victory for Munster would make them favourites to qualify as Pool 1 winners. And they will be confident of victory having won their last seven matches – two in the Champions Cup, four in the PRO12 and the victory against the Maori All Blacks.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Adam Thompstone 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Will Evans, 22 Sam Harrison, 23 Tom Brady

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Andrew Conway

Date: Saturday, December 17
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

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