Preview: Leicester Tigers v Saracens

Date published: December 30 2016

Club captain Tom Youngs and England duo Dan Cole and Ben Youngs return to the starting line-up for Leicester Tigers in the home game against Saracens this Sunday.

The Youngs brothers sat out the Christmas fixture at Exeter, while prop Cole appeared as a second-half replacement at Sandy Park on his recover from a leg injury suffered on international duty during the autumn Tests.

The return of scrum-half Youngs is the only change to the backline since the Round 11 defeat at Exeter, while skipper Youngs joins Cole and Ellis Genge in the front-row.

Meanwhile for Saracens, in the front-row, Richard Barrington continues at loosehead prop and will pack down alongside Jamie George (hooker) and Juan Figallo (tighthead prop).

Lock forward George Kruis is ruled out of the Premiership trip after sustaining a facial injury against Newcastle Falcons. Wallabies lock Will Skelton starts alongside Maro Itoje with former Tigers man Jim Hamilton named on the bench.

In the back-row, Schalk Burger continues at openside flanker alongside his compatriot Michael Rhodes (blindside flanker) with Jackson Wray named at number eight.

At half-back, Ben Spencer starts at scrum-half with Owen Farrell continuing at fly-half.

In the backs, Brad Barritt captains the side alongside Marcelo Bosch from centre whilst in the back three, Chris Ashton returns to the Saracens starting line-up after making a try scoring return from suspension off the bench in last weekend's clash against Newcastle.

Ashton is joined by Alex Goode who slots in at full-back with Sean Maitland shifting to the left wing.

Form: Leicester Tigers three game winning run in Premiership Rugby ended at Exeter on Christmas Eve. The Tigers only defeat at Welford Road in their last 14 matches in all tournaments was to Wasps in round 2 of Premiership Rugby. Saracens only defeat in Premiership Rugby since round 4 was 11-14 at Bath in their most recent away game. Saracens have conceded only nine tries in the first half of the season, eight better than the next best club. Leicester’s only victory in their last six fixtures with Saracens was 21-13 at Welford Road in this equivalent fixture in round 17 last season. Saracens have won just once at Welford Road since September 2011: 32-27 in February 2013.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Will Evans, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Worth, 23 Tom Brady

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Nathan Earle

Date: Sunday, January 1
Venue: Welford Road
Time: 15:00 Local
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Roger Baileff
TMO: David Grashoff