Planet Rugby

Tigers boosted by returning trio

27th November 2013 09:10

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VERENIKI GONEVA LEICESTER Tigers

Returning: Niki Goneva

Leicester will welcome back Argentinian internationals Marcos Ayerza and Pablo Matera from international duty on Friday.

The Tigers travel to face Gloucester at Kingsholm in an important Premiership clash and are also boosted by the return to fitness of Fijian winger Niki Goneva.

Centre Matt Smith's hamstring injury is not as severe as the club had feared, offering director of rugby Richard Cockerill some overdue good news where injuries are concerned.

"Smith's injury was not quite as bad as we first thought," Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.

"The hamstring strain was quite a mild one, so within the next couple of weeks he will be fit to play.

"That is good news and Niki Goneva should be fit for us this week, too. Marcos and Pablo are also both back and raring to go."

But Tongan back-row Steve Mafi remains out of action for the Tigers as he deals with ongoing personal issues surrounding the birth of his son in Australia.

"Steve has some personal issues to deal with and sort out, so I am leaving him to do that," added Cockerill.

"It has been going on for a month now and, at some point, that has to come to a resolution.

"Of course, I will give him time to get all of those things sorted but, at some point, life must go on.

"It never rains, it pours. While we have our injury problems, Steve is fit and healthy but not available. He has some issues with his wife and son back in Australia, which he needs to sort out.

"If that was you or I, we would say those things are more important and have to come first.

"Frustrating as it is, it's the right thing he stays there and that is the most important thing at this stage."

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