Preview: Leicester v Harlequins

Date published: October 9 2014

Manu Tuilagi returns to the Leicester Tigers line-up for Friday’s home game against Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership.

Manu Tuilagi returns to the Leicester Tigers line-up for Friday’s home game against Harlequins in Round Six of the Aviva Premiership.

Tigers centre Tuilagi played in the opening two games of the season but has sat out the last three weeks with a groin injury.

Michele Rizzo and Brad Thorn are in line for their home debuts for Tigers after coming through their first game a week ago and loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza returns to the squad for the first time this season after playing for Argentina in the Rugby Championship.

Mathew Tait has recovered from the knock he took at Gloucester last weekend and starts at full-back, while Tuilagi’s return allows top try-scorer Vereniki Goneva to revert to the wing.

Meanwhile, there is just one change to the Harlequins starting team which beat London Welsh last week as Will Collier starts in the front row.

Following 50 minutes in the Aviva ‘A’ League on Monday night, centre George Lowe is named among the replacements and will look to make his first senior appearance for the club since September 2013.

Form: Leicester Tigers have slipped to three successive Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats and have not lost four in a row in the tournament since season 2003/04, however they did begin the 2011/12 season with five defeats in the first six games but still finished second in the table and runner-up to Harlequins in the final. Tigers were defeated 19-22 by London Irish in their most recent home game and have not lost back-to-back matches at the venue in this tournament since October 2011. Harlequins achieved their biggest ever Premiership Rugby victory on Saturday at home to London Welsh but are yet to win successive matches this Aviva Rugby Premiership campaign. ‘Quins only two victories on an opponent’s home turf so far 2014 came at Sale and at Exeter at the end of last season. Harlequins achieved the treble over Leicester last season having won both Premiership encounters and another in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, whilst Tigers only victory over the Londoners in their last seven encounters in all tournaments was in the Premiership Rugby semi-final in May 2013. Harlequins have won on four of their last six visits to Welford Road in all tournaments.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Robert Barbieri, 21 David M