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Preview: London Welsh v Leicester Tigers Preview: London Welsh v Leicester Tigers

Preview: London Welsh v Leicester Tigers

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill insists there is not a chance that his side will be taking Aviva Premiership new boys London Welsh lightly in Sunday’s season opener.

Despite winning promotion after seeing off Cornish Pirates on May 23 it was not until the beginning of July that London Welsh were confirmed as a top-flight club.

Since then head coach Lyn Jones has been forced to move quickly to assemble an Exiles squad that can compete at the highest level.

In come the likes of Gavin Henson, Paulica Ion and Kirill Kulemin but a suspected broken cheekbone looks set to keep Henson on the sidelines for the first six weeks of the season.

And despite the rushed nature of Welsh’s summer business Cockerill, whose Tigers side have reached the Premiership final for the last eight years in row, insists they will be a force to be reckoned with at the Kassam Stadium. 

“We just have to make sure that our bits are very accurate. It's a very awkward game for us,” he said. 

“I think they will play. I have watched their pre-season games and they have chucked it around and scored some tries.

“I don't think a 'stick it up your jumper' approach would suit them. They have some experience in the likes of Daniel Browne and Paulica Ion in the pack and they have both been around a bit.

“Their side may be a bit patched up because of the lateness of their promotion but there is enough in there to cause you problems. There's no chance we will expect it to be easy.”

Sunday’s clash will be Leicester's first visit to the Kassam Stadium, whilst the club have not played in the city of Oxford since a visit to Iffley Road to take on the Dark Blues in 1994.

The two clubs have met just once before in competitive rugby, a 43-3 win for the Tigers at Old Deer Park in the third round of the Pilkington Cup in January 1990. 

But despite the odds being heavily in Leicester’s favour, the Tigers have lost their opening fixture in the last three consecutive seasons. 

But Jones insists that it is not a relevant statistic for his side who have been brought together on such short notice.

"People say it's better to get Leicester and Harlequins up front first of all, but I tend to prefer to play them a little bit down the road," he said.

"I'm sure the other Premiership clubs would argue they may not be the best team in the league, but they have the best squads.

"I don't think we have a point to prove coming in late. That's life and we deserved our chance, so we're keen to push on now and prove ourselves worthy Aviva Premiership contenders.”

To witness history in the making at the Kassam Stadium click here 

Referee: JP Doyle (43rd Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Andrew Watson. TMO: Geoff Warren.

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