Preview: Leicester v Saracens

Date published: November 14 2014

Brad Thorn will captain Leicester for the first time in Sunday’s Aviva Premiership match against Saracens at Welford Road.

World Cup winner Brad Thorn will captain Leicester for the first time in Sunday’s Aviva Premiership match against Saracens at Welford Road.

Thorn leads the Tigers in just his fifth appearance for the club, and will partner England squad member Graham Kitchener in the second-row.

Dan Cole starts at prop after making his return from a neck injury in the LV= Cup win over Sale Sharks last weekend. He joins Italy international Michele Rizzo and young hooker Harry Thacker.

In the backline, there is a place for Blaine Scully on his return from international duty with the USA, and Matt Smith joins Anthony Allen at centre. Mathew Tait makes his 50th Tigers appearance.

Tommy Bell is included in the matchday squad for the first time since his move from Jersey last month and is joined among the replacements by back-rower Paul Grant, on loan from Nottingham.

Meanwhile, Alex Goode returns from England duty to start at full-back for Saracens’ trip.

Goode is joined by in-form wings Chris Ashton and Davis Strettle in the back three.

In the midfield Marcelo Bosch comes into the side after his time with Los Pumas, and partners USA international Chris Wyles at centre. Charlie Hodgson starts at fly-half and is joined by Richard Wigglesworth at half-back.

Up front, Richard Barrington, Jamie George and Juan Figallo all start in the front-row, with Mouritz Botha packing down alongside Saracens skipper Alistair Hargreaves at lock forward.

After his try scoring performance for Namibia, Jacques Burger is back in Saracens colours this weekend, with Kelly Brown and Jackson Wray also named in the back-row.

Form: Leicester Tigers only defeat in their last five matches in all tournaments was at Scarlets in the European Champions Cup on 25th October. The Tigers solo defeat in their last ten Aviva Premiership Rugby matches at Welford Road was to London Irish in round 4. Saracens have lost just once in Aviva Premiership Rugby so far this season: 11-21 at Bath in their most recent away game in the tournament, and have not lost on successive away trips since New Year 2011. The Tigers have won only one of their last four Premiership Rugby encounters with Saracens since the 2012 semi-final: 31-27 at Welford Road in this equivalent fixture last season. Saracens have won on four of their last six visits to Leicester.

The teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Owen Williams, 9 David Mele, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Brad Thorn (c), 3 Dan Cole, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Jake Farnworth, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Tommy Bell.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alistair Hargreaves (c), 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Will Fraser, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Ben Ransom.

Date: Sunday, November 16
Venue: Welford Road, Leicester
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referee: Nigel Carrick, Peter Huckle