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Leicester Tigers have named their team to play Saracens in the Aviva Premiership semi-final and included Manu Tuilagi, Mike Fitzgerald and Brendon O’Connor.
Tuilagi and Fitzgerald missed the last two games of the league season, while O’Connor is named in the back row for the first time since the European Champions Cup quarter-final win over Stade Francais.
Harry Thacker, the Citizen Try of the Season winner at this week’s Aviva Premiership awards, joins international duo Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole in the front row.
Fitzgerald and O’Connor are named alongside No8 Lachlan McCaffrey in the back row.
Telusa Veainu, named in the BT Sport Dream Team in recognition of his performances in his debut season in England, joins captain Mathew Tait and top try-scorer Vereniki Goneva in the back three, with Tuilagi alongside Peter Betham at centre.
Tigers make a 12th successive appearance in the knockout stages of the league season and director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Saracens are a good side and have had a big season. We know we have to go there and put everything on the line. Both sides will have a huge amount of respect for each other.”
Saracens have won their last eight matches in all competitions since their 13-21 defeat at Leicester in Aviva Premiership Rugby on 20th March.
This is Saracens eighth appearance in the semi-finals and their seventh in succession, reaching the final on four previous occasions in 2010, 2011, 2014 & 2015.
Leicester Tigers defeat at Bath in round 22 ended a three game winning run in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
The Tigers only away victory in the tournament since the end of January came on a trip to Northampton on 16th April.
This is Leicester’s 11th successive Premiership semi-final (they progressed directly to the final in 2005 after topping the table), where their only two defeats at this stage have come in the last two seasons, at Northampton and at Bath.
The last three fixtures between the two clubs have all been won by the home side on the day.
The Tigers have lost on all three previous visits to Allianz Park with their only try at the venue being scored by Graham Kitchener in 2013.
The two clubs have met in one previous semi-final with Leicester victorious 24-15 at Welford Road in 2012.
Saracens Boss Mark McCall has named the same starting side that defeated Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup Final last weekend, with the only one change to the match day squad as Neil de Kock takes Ben Spencer’s place on the bench.
At full-back, the recently crowned Premiership Player of the Year Alex Goode starts and will be joined by Chris Ashton and Chris Wyles in the Sarries back three.
At centre Duncan Taylor will partner captain Brad Barritt in the Saracens midfield, whilst in the halves Owen Farrell (fly-half) and Richard Wigglesworth (scrum-half) continue.
Up front, Mako Vunipola (loosehead prop) is joined by Schalk Brits (hooker) and Petrus Du Plessis (tighthead prop).
In the second row, European Rugby’s Player of the Year Maro Itoje will be joined by George Kruis. In the back row, Michael Rhodes continues at blindside flanker with Will Fraser (openside flanker) and Billy Vunipola (No8) also named.
Match : Saracens v Leicester Tigers
Date : Saturday 21 May
Venue : Allianz Park,
Kick Off : 12.30pm
Live on: BT Sport
Referee :JP Doyle (115th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys & Paul Dix.
TMO: Graham Hughes.
15 Alex Goode , 14 Chris Ashton , 13 Duncan Taylor , 12 Brad Barritt (c) , 11 Chris Wyles , 10 Owen Farrell , 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola , 7 Will Fraser , 6 Michael Rhodes , 5 George Kruis , 4 Maro Itoje , 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits ,1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements : 16 Jamie George , 17 Richard Barrington , 18 Juan Figallo , 19 Jim Hamilton , 20 Jackson Wray , 21 Neil De Kock , 22 Charlie Hodgson , 23 Marcelo Bosch
15 Mathew Tait (c) , 14 Telusa Veainu , 13 Peter Betham , 12 Manu Tuilagi , 11 Vereniki Goneva , 10 Owen Williams , 9 Ben Youngs , 1 Marcos Ayerza , 2 Harry Thacker , 3 Dan Cole , 4 Dom Barrow , 5 Graham Kitchener , 6 Mike Fitzgerald , 7 Brendon O’Connor , 8 Lachlan McCaffrey
Replacements : 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini , 17 Ellis Genge , 18 Logovi’i Mulipola , 19 Ed Slater , 20 Will Evans , 21 Jono Kitto , 22 Tommy Bell , 23 Adam Thompstone
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