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Preview: Leicester v Worcester

06th September 2013 11:42

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SKY_MOBILE Logovi i Mulipola Leicester Tigers

Power: Logovi'i Mulipola

Leicester Tigers will kick off a new season at Welford Road with four new signings in the 23-man squad against Worcester Warriors.

The matchday squad also includes all six Tigers who shared in the British and Irish Lions success in Australia.

With new club captain Toby Flood injured in the pre-season match against Ulster last week, Louis Deacon will lead out the team on home soil for the first match of the new season in his 250th appearance for the club.

Half-backs David Mele and Ryan Lamb make their club debuts, with fellow summer signings Neil Briggs and Owen Williams named among the replacements.

Lions forwards Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling and Tom Croft are included in the starting line-up, with Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi on the bench.

Meanwhile, director of rugby Dean Ryan will hand competitive debuts to five summer signings in Warriors' against Leicester.

Captain Jonathan Thomas, Ignacio Mieres Jeremy Su'a, Mike Williams and Jeremy Becasseau will all start at Welford Road as Dean Ryan takes charge of his first top-flight match in over four years.

There is also a return to action for centre Ravai Fatiaki, who missed much of last season through injury.

He will be partnered in midfield by fellow Fijian Josh Matavesi, with David Lemi, Josh Drauniniu and Chris Pennell completing the backline.

John Andress lines-up alongside Ed Shervington and Becasseau in the front row with Dean Schofield partnering Williams at lock.

Sam Betty and Semisi Taulava complete the back row as Warriors go head-to-head with last season's Aviva Premiership champions.

"We get going on Sunday and we have the challenge of facing Leicester Tigers at Welford Road - but it doesn't get any better than starting there," said Ryan.

"Leicester are champions and Welford Road is not an easy place to go at any time. But I think we will be more excited there than at any other stadium.

"We will gain ten per cent because we are fired up about being at Welford Road and we have a chance.

"That applies to every single game if we are competitive. We have got to be at our best and they have got to take us for granted - and it happens all the time.

"Competitive behaviour is something we have got to get in this club every time we take to the field and that doesn't matter where we are."

Form: Leicester Tigers won their opening clash of the 2011/12 campaign against London Welsh - their first victory on the opening weekend since 2008. The Tigers' only loss in their last eight Aviva Premiership Rugby matches was at Bath, 26-27, on 20 April. Worcester Warriors' solo victory in round one of the Premiership came in 2011 when they defeated Sale at Sixways. The Warriors finished off last season with five straight defeats and have not won away from home in the competition since a visit to London Wasps on New Year's Day 2012. The Tigers have won their last eight matches against Worcester, whilst the Warriors' have never won in eleven previous visits to Welford Road since 1895.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Anthony Allen, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 David Mele, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon (c), 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Manusamoa Tuilagi

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Jonathan Thomas (C), 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Mike Williams, 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Jeremy Becasseau
Replacements: 16 Nick Seymour, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Jon Clarke

Date: Sunday, September 8
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 14.00 BST (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce