A place in Leicester Tigers folklore is up for grabs when the Barbarians visit Welford Road on Tuesday night, according to Jordan Crane.
Once a regular and much-anticipated Christmas fixture, the Baa-Baas return to Leicester this week with a star-studded squad featuring All Blacks fly-half Colin Slade and Australia winger Nick Cummins – aka The Honey Badger.
The fixture has been organised as part of the Barbarians’ 125th anniversary year and Crane, who will captain the Tigers for the clash, is hoping this visit will rank alongside the most memorable in Welford Road’s proud past.
“We have a real history with the Barbarians from years ago when there was a regular fixture against them, so it will be a good occasion for the fans, the players and everyone involved,” he said.
“I think where there’s history it always makes it a little bit better. You can be part of that history if you’re playing on Tuesday night.
“We’ve done it over the last few years playing international sides – we beat South Africa, we beat New Zealand Maori and we ran Australia close, which were great occasions.
“The guys who were involved in those two wins especially are part of Leicester folklore now, so it will be a good occasion and if we can win or put in a good performance against the Barbarians it will be great for us.
“You’re playing against a team with a massive history and the quality of the Barbarians team means it’s going to be a really big occasion for the club.”
After Leicester came through a pair of hard-hitting, attritional contests in the European Rugby Champions Cup over the last fortnight, a chance to face off against some stars of southern hemisphere rugby will be a nice change of pace.
Christian Loamanu makes his first start for the Tigers since joining from Benetton Treviso in the summer, starting in midfield alongside Anthony Allen.
Vereniki Goneva and Miles Benjamin are on the wings, with Freddie Burns moving to full-back. Owen Williams starts alongside David Mele at half-back.
Laurence Pearce returns to the forward pack and there is a place for Jake Farnworth at hooker after making his senior debut in the opening round of this season's LV= Cup.
Academy hooker George Nairn is included among the replacements and Tommy Bell could earn a first appearance at Welford Road after making his club debut in the win at London Irish on Saturday.
“It’s a great opportunity for the fans to see some different players – there will be a lot of Super 15 guys who you wouldn’t normally see,” added Crane.
“It’s a completely different style of rugby to the northern hemisphere, so it’s good and something different.
“I think obviously everyone will be looking forward to seeing The Honey Badger and hearing what he’s got to say after the game.
“You see him playing Super 15 and hear what he says in interviews, so it will be great to play against him.
“It’s a good chance to see more international-class players at Welford Road and it’s good for the guys who are playing against them as well. It’s just a really good occasion all round.”
Tickets are available now from the ticket office at Welford Road, on 0116 319 8888 and online at www.leicestertigers.com. Book now and collect your tickets on the way into the ground.