Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Premiership Preview

Leicester Tigers host Exeter Chiefs at Welford Road

Leicester Tigers have named summer signings Seremaia Bai, Freddie Burns and Leonardo Ghiraldini to make their Premiership debuts for the club this weekend against Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road on Saturday.

Fiji international Bai teams up with Manu Tuilagi at centre, while Burns is at fly-half, with Ghiraldini starting a hooker.

Another new signing, Robert Barbieri, is named among the replacements.,

Ben Youngs leads Tigers as captain for the first time in league competition, while Tom Croft starts the season in the back row alongside Julian Salvi and Jordan Crane.

Club captain Ed Slater, and senior pros Anthony Allen and Louis Deacon, are among those sidelined by injury this week.

Tigers are also without Miles Benjamin, Gonzalo Camacho, Dan Cole, Scott Hamilton, Pablo Matera, Geoff Parling, Laurence Pearce, Michele Rizzo, Adam Thompstone and Brad Thorn.

Marcos Ayerza is on international duty with Argentina.

Leicester Tigers’ only loss in their last twelve regular season fixtures in Aviva Premiership Rugby came at Harlequins in round 20. The Tigers have been defeated just once in the Premiership at Welford Road since February 2013: 16-23 to Harlequins last November.

Newcastle Falcons have lost their last sixteen Premiership matches since beating London Irish 13-11 at Kingston Park in October 2013, comfortably their worst-ever run in the tournament.

The Falcons have not been victorious in a round 1 Premiership fixture since they entertained Sale in 2007.

Leicester have won their last nine encounters with Newcastle whilst the Falcons only previous victory at Welford Road in the Premiership remains 25-19 on 30 December 1997 – when Dean Richards played his last ever game for Leicester.

Newcastle Falcons have named full back Simon Hammersley to make his Aviva Premiership debut after impressing in all three of his pre-season appearances as he lines up alongside four other players looking to wear Falcons colours for the first time in the English rugby’s top flight.

New signings Juan Pablo Socino and Josh Furno will both start for the club with Calum Green also featuring in the starting line-up against his former club at Welford Road and former Tigers wing Alesana Tuilagi travelling as a replacement.

Another player in tomorrow’s first XV is last year’s Young Player of the Season George McGuigan, who has fought off competition from Scotland international Scott Lawson and former Tiger Rob Hawkins to claim the number 2 jersey as his own for tomorrow’s game.

Director of Rugby Dean Richards said: “George is starting at hooker which is fantastic from his point of view. He’s really stepped up to the mark and I’m really pleased for him.”

Richards continued: “Over the last two or three weeks we’ve seen a real upturn in the guys’ execution of the processes we’ve been putting in place, and from Bayonne to Rotherham to Edinburgh they’ve seen the opportunities and have also seen the opportunities that have gone begging, and have tried to rectify those things. “

“With Mark Wilson falling victim to an ear infection, the Falcons’ injury tally is stacking up, but Richards remains confident that the squad for tomorrow’s game remains strong.

“These are the guys who have understood exactly what’s been asked of them throughout pre-season. We have Calum and Josh in the second row tomorrow with Dom on the bench and all of those boys have been fantastic in pre-season. Calum is going back to his old club with a point to prove and Josh has a fantastic engine on him and will run all over the place.

Match : Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons
Date : Saturday 6th September
Venue : Welford Road,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N/A

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