Seru Rabeni and James Hamilton have been named in the Tigers XV following impressive performances for Fiji and Scotland respectively, and Cockerill is confident that both players can carry that form with them into Tigers colours.
“Seru had a really good World Cup with Fiji and played really, really well,” says Cockerill. “He’s feeling fresh and he’s desperate to play. He brings that bit of physicality to our backline. He’s a world-class player and he’s fully-fit for probably the first time in long time. For us, that’s great.
“Jim’s a good player and he’s come back into the team. Richard Blaze has a groin injury so he wasn’t considered. I’ve picked a specialist lineout for this weekend because we think that’s where the danger will lie. Jim and Louis Deacon in the second row gives us two powerful guys and Marco Wentzel has played a huge amount at No.6 for both the Blue Bulls and the Cats. It’s an interesting combination and I’m interested to see how it goes.”
Ben Herring earns his first start on the openside flank and Ben Youngs continues at scrum-half, with Cockerill again happy to give both players a chance to prove their worth.
“I think all three scrum-halves are very close at the moment. Ben Youngs took his opportunity very well at Saracens and he’s in the team this week on merit. He played against a very good nine in Neil de Kock. He made one really good break, he made his tackles and he worked very hard.
“Luke Abraham’s been outstanding and you couldn’t fault Luke on his performances but Ben’s played Super 12 rugby and he’s a very good player. Ben’s got an opportunity and he’ll be keen to prove that he can do it with us at this level.”
Andy Goode misses out on a place in the 22 with a knee injury.