Harlequins v Leicester Tigers Premiership Preview

Harlequins host Leicester Tigers at the Twickenham Stoop

Leicester Tigers have named Manu Tuilagi, Brendon O’Connor and Ed Slater in their team to play Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership at the Twickenham Stoop.

Tuilagi has missed the last three games with a hamstring strain, while O’Connor makes his first appearance since the derby match against Northampton Saints in early January after a hamstring injury.

Club captain Slater returns after a seven-week absence with a knee injury.

There is also a place in the matchday squad for the first time for former South Africa captain Jean de Villiers who is named among the replacements.

De Villiers has recovered from the fractured jaw which cut short his World Cup and a subsequent calf problem which has delayed his debut for Tigers.

Mathew Tait reverts to full-back to accommodate the return of Tuilagi at centre, with Telusa Veainu joining Peter Betham on the wings.

Slater is joined by Mike Fitzgerald in the second row.

Laurence Pearce follows his try-scoring appearance at Newcastle last week with a recall to the back row alongside Tom Croft and O’Connor.

Harlequins have slipped to four straight defeats in all competitions since their 34-26 victory against Cardiff Blues at Twickenham Stoop in the European Challenge Cup on 17th January.

One of those defeats was in their most recent encounter at Twickenham Stoop against Northampton, a venue where they have not lost successive matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby since September 2013.

Leicester Tigers only victory in their last four encounters was by a single point at Gloucester on 30th January.

This remains their only victory on the road in any competition since they beat Munster in their own backyard in the European Champions Cup in December.

Leicester were victorious 22-19 when the two clubs met at Welford Road in round 2 and have not achieved a season’s double over the Londoners since 2010/11.

Tigers have lost on their last four visits to Twickenham Stoop in all tournaments since their 43-33 win there in Aviva Premiership Rugby in April 2012.

Harlequins have made five personnel changes to the starting team which played Gloucester Rugby last week.

Dave Ward moves from the openside flank and starts in the front row alongside Adam Jones and Mark Lambert.

James Horwill captains the side in the second row with Nick Easter returning at number 8.

In the backs, Winston Stanley is named at outside centre, with Ben Botica starting at fly-half. Botica replaces Nick Evans who underwent surgery on a broken leg this week; the fly-half is expected to be out for 12 weeks with a return in early May.

Among the replacements Sam Egerton, who joined Harlequins from England Sevens as injury cover for Karl Dickson, will look to make his debut for the Club.

The Bookies have given Harlequins a 2 point start for this Match – with an offer of up to £200 in Bonus bets.

Match : Harlequins v Leicester Tigers
Date : Friday 19 February
Venue : Twickenham Stoop,
Kick Off : 7.45pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee :J P Doyle (106th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Sean Davey.

Teams

Harlequins

15. Ross Chisholm , 14. Marland Yarde , 13. Winston Stanley , 12. Harry Sloan , 11. Tim Visser , 10. Ben Botica , 9. Tito Tebaldi, 8. Nick Easter, 7. Luke Wallace , 6. Mat Luamanu , 5. Charlie Matthews , 4. James Horwill (C), 3. Adam Jones, 2. Dave Ward, 1. Mark Lambert

Replacments : 16. Rob Buchanan , 17. Owen Evans , 18. Kyle Sinckler , 19. George Merrick , 20. James Chisholm , 21. Sam Egerton , 22. Tim Swiel , 23. Matt Hopper

Leicester Tigers

15 Mathew Tait , 14 Peter Betham , 13 Matt Smith , 12 Manu Tuilagi , 11 Telusa Veainu , 10 Freddie Burns , 9 Sam Harrison , 1 Marcos Ayerza , 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini , 3 Fraser Balmain , 4 Ed Slater (c) , 5 Mike Fitzgerald , 6 Tom Croft , 7 Brendon O’Connor , 8 Laurence Pearce

Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker , 17 Riccardo Brugnara , 18 Logovi’i Mulipola , 19 Graham Kitchener , 20 Jordan Crane , 21 Jono Kitto , 22 Oli Bryant , 23 Jean de Villiers

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