Preview: Leicester v Worcester

Date published: April 29 2016

Leonardo Ghiraldini and Ed Slater return to the Leicester Tigers line-up for Saturday's home game against Worcester Warriors.

Italy international hooker Ghiraldini is back in action after a shoulder injury suffered during the Six Nations, while club captain Slater is named in the back row.

Owen Williams comes in at fly-half after Freddie Burns suffered an ankle injury in the Champions Cup semi-final against Racing 92 last weekend.

With Manu Tuilagi sidelined this week after suffering a knee injury against Racing, Mathew Tait moves into the midfield, with Telusa Veainu taking over at full-back and Adam Thompstone claiming a place on the wing.

Sam Harrison comes in at scrum-half, with England international Ben Youngs joining fellow Grand Slam winner Dan Cole among the replacements this week. Young flanker Will Evans is also included in the matchday squad.

Meanwhile, Warriors centre Andy Symons is set for his 50th Club appearance.

The 24-year-old is one of three changes to the Warriors starting XV which battled Wasps a fortnight ago, with hooker Niall Annett and giant lock Tevita Cavubati also picked to face the Tigers.

Symons partners Ryan Mills in the centre with Bryce Heem returning to his more familiar place on the wing.

Cooper Vuna and full-back Chris Pennell complete the back three while Francois Hougaard and Tom Heathcote form the half-back combination.

Annett partners props Val Rapava Ruskin and Nick Schonert in the front row, while Cavubati comes into the side for Donncha O’Callaghan in the second row next to Darren Barry.

Phil Dowson and Carl Kirwan maintain their places in the back row with skipper GJ van Velze at number eight.

Director of Rugby Ryan said: “We recognise the scale of the challenge. Welford Road is one of the toughest places to go historically.

“We’ve spent a lot of time challenging the group in how we want to perform in these final two games.

“We recognise it’s a different environment to what we’re used to but it’s important to get our best performance out there which will serve us in good stead going into next year.”

Form: A Leicester Tigers victory would see them claim a play-off spot for a twelfth straight year. Tigers only defeat in the last four rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby was at Sale in round 18. Worcester Warriors have lost their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby matches conceding 8 tries and at least 50 points on each occasion. The Warriors have won two of their last three away games – at Newcastle and at Harlequins. Leicester have won their last 11 Premiership Rugby encounters with Worcester since the Warriors 23-19 victory at Sixways in March 2008. Worcester have never won at Welford Road in a dozen previous visits since 1895.

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Mathew Tait, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Ed Slater (c), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Marcos Ayerza
16 Greg Bateman, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Matt Smith

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Andy Symons, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Donncha O’Callaghan, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Luke Baldwin,22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dean Hammond

Date: Saturday, April 30
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Healy, Kevin Stewart
TMO: David Rose