Preview: London Irish v Leicester

Date published: March 23 2012

Leicester Tigers welcome back six of their senior internationals for Sunday's Aviva Premiership Round 18 trip to London Irish.

Leicester Tigers welcome back six of their senior internationals for Sunday's Aviva Premiership Round 18 trip to London Irish.

England quartet Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs are named in the Tigers' starting line-up, with Tom Croft and Martin Castrogiovanni among the replacements on their return from Six Nations duty.

Toby Flood, used as a replacement in the LV= Cup Final win over Northampton Saints last Sunday, takes over at fly-half, and there is a return to the squad for centre Anthony Allen after recovering from a knee injury.

Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said the team's are determined to secure their place in this season's play-offs.

“We had a good win in the Cup last weekend but now our focus is purely on the Aviva Premiership and the push for a place in the top four,” explained Cockerill.

“The whole squad has been boosted by the run in the Cup and we have been in decent form, but the Premiership table is so tight that we cannot afford to lose any of that momentum,” he added.

Meanwhile, London Irish coach Toby Booth has made six changes and a positional switch to his side for their traditional St Patrick's Party clash.

Alex Corbisiero returns from a successful Six Nations campaign to join Faan Rautenbach and David Paice in the front row. Tom Homer and Marland Yarde will join Sailosi Tagicakibau in the back three.

Steve Shingler and Dan Bowden switch positions from fly-half to inside centre. Bryn Evans starts in the second row and Jamie Gibson at number 8 having both recovered from recent injuries.

Nick Kennedy will captain the side from the second row and Booth expects a tough assignment from the visitors..

“The St Patrick's Party match is always a great occasion and we look forward to playing in front of a fantastic crowd,” he said.

“The squad has used the time between fixtures to recuperate and refocus and are now raring to go.

“Leicester always presents a massive challenge so we will need a huge work rate and effort from the squad to ensure we are competitive.”

Form: London Irish have won just one of their last eight matches in all competitions since early January: 23-15 at home to Gloucester in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 4 February. The Exiles' three game home winning run in Aviva Premiership Rugby ended in their most recent encounter at Madejski Stadium with the 23-30 reversal to Northampton. Leicester Tigers picked up the first silverware of the 2011/12 season last Sunday at Worcester when they beat Northampton to take the Anglo-Welsh Cup and also qualify for next season's Heineken Cup. Tigers have lost just once in the Premiership since round six: 11-19 at Exeter on 11 February. Irish have beaten the Tigers just once since February 2008: 18-12 at Reading in the Premiership on 24 October 2009.

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The teams:

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Marland Yarde; 13 Jonathan Joseph; 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Dan Bowden, 9, Darren Allinson, 8 Jamie Gibson. 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Nick Kennedy (c), 3, Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 James Buckland; 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paulica Ion, 19. Bob Casey, 20. Alex Gray, 21 Ofisa Treviranus, 22 Delon Armitage, 23. Paul Hodgson.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (c), 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 George Skivington, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Logovi'i Mulipola, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Craig Newby, 21 James Grindal, 22 Anthony Allen, 23 Scott Hamilton.

Date: Sunday, March 25
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00
Referee: Dean Richards