Anthony Watson: England international starts at full-back for Leicester Tigers while Jimmy Gopperth at 12 in pre-season clash

Adam Kyriacou

England stalwart Anthony Watson will return to the rugby field on Friday when he starts at full-back for Leicester Tigers in a pre-season friendly.

The back three star, who played for the British & Irish Lions on two tours in 2017 and 2021, gets the nod from Steve Borthwick for the clash with Jersey Reds.

Watson joined the Premiership champions from Bath at the end of the campaign and has not played since sustaining a serious knee injury in October last year.

But the 28-year-old will mark his comeback this weekend against Championship outfit the Reds in what is a dangerous backline selected by the English giants.

Jimmy Gopperth at 12

Joining Watson behind the scrum in the back three will be Nemani Nadolo and Harry Potter while fellow new arrival Jimmy Gopperth starts at inside centre.

Gopperth is joined by Phil Cokanasiga in the midfield, with Ben Youngs at scrum-half and Freddie Burns in the 10 jersey at Stade Santander International.

Up front Borthwick has selected Francois van Wyk and Dan Cole as his two props, who are either side of hooker Charlie Clare, while in the second-row there’s starts for Harry Wells and Eli Snyman with George Martin and Olly Cracknell the flankers alongside recently announced new club captain Hanro Liebenberg.

An extended bench sees Tom Cowan-Dickie, Joe Taufete’e, James Cronin, James Whitcombe, Will Hurd and Nephi Leatigaga named as the replacement front-rowers, while Finn Carnduff, Cameron Henderson and Sean Jansen are the fellow forwards.

Sam Edwards, Bryce Hegarty, Matt Scott, Joe Browning, Kini Murimurivalu and Lachlan Shelley are the replacement backs as Leicester look to start their pre-season on a positive note before the campaign begins away to Exeter Chiefs on September 10.

READ MORE: Premiership: Seven players ink new Leicester Tigers contracts