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Preview: Leicester v Toulouse

18th January 2013 08:55

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Luke McAlister Toulouse

In the centre: Luke McAlister

Toulouse have named Lionel Beauxis at fly-half alongside Luke McAlister, with the latter moved to 12 for their Heineken Cup clash with Leicester.

Guy Novés's decision heightens the expectation that the French outfit will adopt a kick-minded approach and back their forwards to win up front.

Thierry Dusautoir returns to that pack alongside Gregory Lamboley and Louis Picamoles while hooker Christopher Tolofua is back in the side.

A further boost to the line-up is Census Johnston coming through a late fitness test, which allows him to start at prop alongside Gurthro Steenkamp. Toulouse arrive with a matchday 23 that features 22 internationals. Only prop Yohan Montes does not have an international cap to his name.

There is just one change to the Leicester side that drew 15-all with Ospreys last week with Thomas Waldrom starting at number eight ahead of Jordan Crane, who drops to the bench.

A sell-out crowd awaits the French side at Welford Road for what is a must-win fixture for the hosts while a losing bonus point or two could be enough for Toulouse to sneak into the quarter-finals.

Toulouse recorded a comfortable 23-9 victory over Richard Cockerill's side in the first game between the sides back in October but will be aware the Tigers will be a different proposition at home in front 24,000 fans.

The Tigers will be desperate to secure a place in the last eight, having failed to make the quarter-finals of European rugby's premier tournament for two of the last three seasons.

Leicester are unbeaten in their last 21 home games in the Heineken Cup since Munster won 21-19 at Welford Road in 2006. But Leicester's only win in their last five encounters with French opponents was 23-19 over Clermont in 2011.

Toulouse's only Round 6 victory since 2008 came at Sale Sharks in 2010.

Leicester have won three of the clashes between these sides, while Toulouse's victory over the Tigers earlier in the campaign was their fourth win against their long-standing rivals.

The only time that Toulouse have missed out on a quarter-final spot since 2001/02 was in 2006/07.

Work is well underway to protect the Welford Road pitch from the current arctic conditions in readiness for Sunday's game.

The playing surface has been protected by frost sheets since last week and has been covered by a heatdome since Wednesday.

Daytime temperatures over the next three days are expected to remain around freezing with overnight lows predicted to be around -4C/-5C. Temperatures at Welford Road reached a low of -8C on Tuesday night.

Snow is forecast for Leicester on Friday afternoon but is expected to clear on Saturday.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

Toulouse: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Gregory Lamboley, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Romain Millo-Chluski, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Yannick Jauzion, 23 Maxime Medard.

Date: Sunday, 20 January
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

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