Tigers director of rugby Dean Richards has named his side for Saturday’s Zurich Premiership trip to Rotherham (kick-off 16.00), with a thigh injury to Neil Baxter seeing Austin Healey switch to the right wing.
Healey’s positional switch sees Sam Vesty take the vacated fullback slot, in an otherwise unchanged starting XV from the one which took Sale Sharks to extra-time in last weekend’s Powergen Cup clash.
Richards said of his selection: “We’ve had a lot of niggles this week which have prevented people from training fully, but we’ve tried to retain the side which has done so well recently.
“Neil Baxter has injured his thigh, so we have decided to move Austin in to that position and bring in Sam Vesty at fullback.”
Tigers’ last outing saw an extra-time Cup defeat to Sale Sharks, with Richards saying of the lessons from that match: “Credit to Sale, but from our point of view all of their tries were preventable, and that was the disappointing thing – defensive errors cost us dearly.
“Elsewhere in the game, we’d been previously criticising our players for their indiscipline, but in fairness they only gave away two penalties in the first 80 minutes and then another two in extra time.
“It was just a defensive alignment error which happened on a number of occasions which cost us dearly. We’ve been working hard on it this week and I’m sure that it won’t happen again.
The match at Rotherham comes on the afternoon of the world cup final, and Richards, a veteran of three world cups himself as a player, said of the scheduling: “It was up to Rotherham really. It was their decision to play it on the Saturday, so we’ve accepted it.”
Of a newly-promoted Rotherham side still bottom of the table after nine consecutive defeats, Richards said: “We’ve found before that any side coming up into the Premiership, be it football or rugby, has always found it difficult to get any sort of foothold unless they spend a huge amount of money, and I don’t think Rotherham have had that sort of facility.
“I’ve not been to Millmoor before, but I hear they have an outstanding surface on the pitch, and a bit of a slope.
“We have to go up there and prove ourselves. Yes, Rotherham are bottom of the table, but we’re not up the top ourselves at the moment, so we can’t say it’s a definite win.
“In all the tapes we’ve seen of Rotherham they’ve been very competitive, strong in certain areas, and there’s no way we can take them lightly. They have key individuals who have a big influence on the way they play.
“They have a very competitive pack. Their scrum-halves are both excellent, whether it be Jacob Rauluni or Guy Easterby. They also have key players in the back-line such as Anthony Elliott on the wing, who is a quality finisher. We expect a very physical game.”
Leicester Tigers team to face Rotherham:
15 Sam Vesty14 Austin Healey13 Ollie Smith12 Daryl Gibson11 Freddie Tuilagi10 Ramiro Pez9 Harry Ellis
1 Graham Rowntree2 Jim Richards3 Darren Morris4 Stewart Campbell5 Louis Deacon6 Dan Lyle7 Josh Kronfeld ©8 Adam Balding
16 George Chuter17 Ricky Nebbett18 Henry Tuilagi19 Will Skinner20 Tom Tierney21 Glenn Gelderbloom22 John Holtby
Not considered due to injury: Geordan Murphy (leg)James Buckland (leg)Peter Cook (back)Leon Lloyd (ankle)Neil Baxter (thigh)