Champions Cup: Handre Pollard starts at fly-half with Freddie Steward on the wing for injury-hit Leicester Tigers

Colin Newboult
Handre Pollard

The Champions Cup returns this weekend and Round Three kicks off with Clermont taking on Leicester Tigers at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.

Ben Youngs captains Leicester in his 74th Champions Cup appearance for Tigers, equalling Geordan Murphy as the club’s most-capped player in Europe’s top-tier.

Young vice captains

Ollie Chessum and Freddie Steward are named as vice-captains for the first time ahead of the European match in Clermont.

In a new-look front-row, Charlie Clare is the hooker and James Whitcombe and Joe Heyes the starting props.

Harry Wells and Cameron Henderson are partnered in the second-row, while Chessum, Tommy Reffell and Sean Jansen make up the starting back-row.

Jansen’s selection at number eight will be 23-year-old’s first starting appearance in Europe for Tigers.

Handré Pollard will make his first appearance in the Champions Cup for Tigers alongside Youngs as the starting half-backs and, in the midfield, Dan Kelly and Matt Scott are the centre pairing.

The fixture will be the 21-year-old Kelly’s 50th appearance for Leicester.

In the back three, Harry Simmons starts on the wing for a second successive weekend while Steward shifts from full-back to the other wing and Charlie Atkinson, in his first European appearance for Tigers, starts in the 15 shirt.

Joe Taufete’e, James Cronin and Will Hurd are the replacement front-rowers.

Olly Cracknell is in line for a return to action after being included on the bench alongside fellow back-rower Emeka Ilione on the Tigers bench.

Jack van Poortvliet, Jimmy Gopperth and Harry Potter are the replacement backs.

Taufete’e and Gopperth – if used – will make their first appearances in the Champions Cup for Tigers and Ilione, a week after his Premiership debut, is in line for his European debut.

Several alterations for Clermont

Meanwhile, Clermont have made a number of changes for their home game against Leicester on Friday.

Two of the front-row have been altered with Daniel Bibi Biziwu and Adrien Pelissie starting ahead of Etienne Falgoux and Yohan Beheregaray.

Behind them reside Paul Jedrasiak, who replaces Tomas Lavanini, and Miles Amatosero, with Judicael Cancoriet coming into the back-row for Killian Tixeront.

Auvergne have also made several changes behind the scrum with Baptiste Jauneau and Anthony Belleau coming at half-back instead of Sebastien Bezy and Jules Plisson.

Alivereti Raka, Irae Simone, Bautista Delguy and Alex Newsome retain their places in the backline, but Cheikh Tiberghien is preferred to Samuel Ezeala.

Tixeront, Bezy and Plisson are all on the bench, while Davit Kubriashvili and Edward Annandale also retain their places in the 23.

They are joined among the replacements by Etienne Fourcade, Giorgi Beria and George Moala.

The teams

Clermont: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Cheikh Tiberghien, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Baptiste Jauneau, 8 Fritz Lee (c), 7 Alexandre Fischer, 6 Judicael Cancoriet, 5 Miles Amatosero, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Adrien Pelissie, 1 Daniel Bibi Biziwu
Replacements: 16 Etienne Fourcade, 17 Giorgi Beria, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Edward Annandale, 20 Killian Tixeront, 21 Sebastien Bezy, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 George Moala

Leicester Tigers: 15 Charlie Atkinson, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Harry Simmons, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Sean Jansen, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Ollie Chessum, 5 Cameron Henderson, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 James Whitcombe
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 James Cronin, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Olly Cracknell, 20 Emeka Ilione, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Harry Potter

Venue: Stade Marcel-Michelin
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Cole (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

READ MORE: Five storylines to follow in the Champions Cup this weekend including the England fly-half race, Ulster’s response and the fightback from the French