Preview: Leicester v Stade Français

Date published: November 12 2015

Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers - Aviva Premiership

Brendon O'Connor will make his Leicester debut in the opening fixture of this season's Champions Cup, against Stade Français on Friday.

O'Connor started work at Tigers last week after completing his commitments in New Zealand, and is named in the back-row for the Pool 4 opener alongside Tom Croft and Lachlan McCaffrey.

Marcos Ayerza makes his first appearance of the season after recovering from an injury suffered on the eve of Argentina's game in the Bronze Medal Final at the Rugby World Cup and he joins fellow internationals Tom Youngs and Dan Cole in the Tigers front-row.

Peter Betham and captain Mathew Tait return to the starting team and Ben Youngs starts a game on home turf for the first time since the World Cup.

Leonardo Ghiraldini, who captained Italy at the World Cup, returns from injury and is included among the replacements alongside international team-mate Matias Aguero who has been added as front-row cover in the absence of Michele Rizzo and Logovi'i Mulipola.

Meanwhile, Stade Français make four changes to their backline as Djibril Camara, Waisea, Jonathan Danty and Jules Plisson are replaced by Hugo Bonneval, Julien Arias, Meyer Bosman and Morné Steyn at full-back, wing, inside centre and fly-half respectively.

Up front Adrien Oleon, Laurent Panis and Zak Taulafo come in for Rabah Slimani, Laurent Sempere and Heinke van der Merwe while Alexandre Flanquart is replaced by Paul Gabrillagues in the second-row.

There is one change in the back-row where Patrick Sio is preferred ahead of Jono Ross.

Form: Leicester have won just three of their last eight Champions Cup matches however those three wins all came at home. Tigers have lost just one of their last 28 home games in the competition (W25, D2). The spoils are split evenly at four wins apiece between these sides, though Leicester Tigers have won the last two instances of this fixture. A loss for Stade Français would be their third in succession, equalling their longest run of defeats in the Champions Cup. Stade Français' last four games against English opposition have all been settled by margins of five points or fewer.

The teams:

Leicester:  15 Mathew Tait (c), 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Seremaia Bai, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Stade Français: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Paul Williams, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jérémy Sinzelle, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Sylvain Nicolas, 6 Patrick Sio, 5 Pascal Papé, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Adrien Oleon, 2 Laurent Panis, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Dany Priso, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Alexandre Flanquart, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Julien Tomas, 22 Waisea, 23 Josaia Raisuqe.

Date: Friday, November 13
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Timekeeper: Gabriele Villari (Italy)
Assessor: Clive Leeke (England)

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