Preview: Leicester v Wasps

Date published: September 9 2016

Mike Fitzgerald, Mike Williams and Owen Williams return to the Leicester Tigers matchday squad for Saturday's Premiership fixture at home to Wasps.

Second-rower Fitzgerald returns to partner Ed Slater at lock as England international Dan Cole resumes in the front row after starting the win at Gloucester last week among the replacements.
JP Pietersen, Luke Hamilton and George McGuigan are in line to make their home debuts for the club after sharing in the opening-day trip to Kingsholm, while Matt Smith comes in at centre and Adam Thompstone starts on the wing.
After recovering from injury, back-rower Mike Williams and fly-half Owen Williams are included on the bench alongside England internationals Ellis Genge and Ben Youngs.
Director of Rugby Dai Young has included Thomas Young at openside flank after a four-month injury lay-off. Guy Thompson moves from 7 to 8 and Sam Jones again runs out on the blindside flank.

Packing down in front of them will be Wasps captain Joe Launchbury and new signing Matt Symons, who earns promotion to the starting line-up having featured among the replacements last Sunday. James Gaskell provides another second row option on a strong-looking bench.

In the front row, loosehead Simon McIntyre and new tighthead Marty Moore both start having impressed off the bench against Exeter. Jake Cooper-Woolley returns to fitness to take a place among the replacements, while Phil Swainston misses out through injury.

There’s only one change to Wasps’ backline against the Chiefs – Joe Simpson starts at scrum-half with Craig Hampson providing cover. Dan Robson has tweaked his calf and is therefore unavailable for selection.

"It’s obviously been good to train on the back of a win this week, but there’s still been plenty to work on. Our second half performance was far better than our first half last Sunday, and we managed to get ourselves over the line, but we know we’ll need to step up again if we’re to be in with a chance of getting the result we want against the Tigers," Young said.

“Everyone saw what Leicester are capable of last weekend, when they came back to win that game against Gloucester. We all know about the Tigers’ spirit and their never-say-die attitude. They’re never beaten until the final whistle and we saw that again from them last week. For us, the focus is on trying to back up last weekend’s performance, at a difficult place in Welford Road.”


Form: Leicester Tigers only defeat in the opening two rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby since 2012 came on a visit to Bath in round 2 of 2013/14. The Tigers have won their last six home games at Welford Road in all tournaments since Sale won there 10-3 in Aviva Premiership Rugby in February. Wasps beat Exeter Chiefs at the Ricoh Arena in round 1 and have not started an Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with a pair of victories since 2011. Wasps were defeated on their two most recent away games, both to Exeter at Sandy Park, but have not lost three in a row on their travels in the competition since November 2014. Wasps 36-24 victory over Tigers at Coventry in March ended a four game winning run by their now near neighbours in this fixture, whilst Wasps have not been victorious at Welford Road since a 28-19 scoreline in Premiership Rugby in September 2008.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Matt Smith, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza  
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Jack Roberts

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Sam Jones, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, Simon McIntyre    
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Jake–Cooper Woolley, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Craig Hampson, 22 Brendan Macken, 23 Frank Halai

Date: Saturday, September 10
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Wayne Falla
TMO: Sean Davey