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Fly-half Hougaard makes his Tigers debut

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South Africa international fly-half Derick Hougaard will make his Leicester Tigers debut in the opening EDF Energy Cup tie of the season away to Bath Rugby on Saturday.

Hougaard has recovered from injury and will make his first appearance for the club following his summer arrival from the Blue Bulls.

Alesana Tuilagi is named on the wing after his recovery from a knee injury picked up in the opening win of the Guinness Premiership season at Gloucester and Tom Varndell returns on the other wing.

Ayoola Erinle makes his first start of the season after recovering from a groin injury and there are call-ups for Brett Deacon, Mefin Davies, Sam Vesty, Tom Youngs and Ben Youngs.

Tigers give debuts to back-row prospects Dan Hemingway and Seb Pearson, while lock Sam Raven is given a start after signing on loan from Rotherham. Young back row Tom Armes, scrum-half Sam Harrison and wing Will Hurrell, who have all played in the Guinness A League this season, are among the replacements.

“We have a number of injuries and, as this is the third game in a week, we have also had to rest and rotate some of our senior players and England internationals,” said Tigers head coach Heyneke Meyer.

“It is great to have Derick and Alesana back in the squad after injury and there are guys like Brett, Mefin and others who need some game-time and deserve their chance.

“It is a young team but we are looking forward to seeing them make the most of their opportunity.

“We have been a bit thin in a couple of areas due to us carrying a number of injuries. In the back row, for instance, Lewis Moody has not played this season, Ben Woods has been carrying a knock and we lost Ben Herring with an injury against Northampton on Wednesday. In the second row, Louis Deacon has been out all season, Richard Blaze has been injured, and Ben Kay and Marco Wentzel have both been carrying niggling injuries.

“Leicester Tigers have a good record in this competition and we are looking forward to another tough challenge at Bath. They have started the season well and it should be a good contest.”

Tigers forwards Lewis Moody, Louis Deacon, Martin Castrogiovanni and Ben Pienaar are yet to play this season due to injury, and centre Seru Rabeni is suspended until mid-October.

Leicester Tigers (versus Bath Rugby, away, Saturday 2.15pm)
15 Sam Vesty
14 Tom Varndell
13 Ayoola Erinle
12 Tom Youngs
11 Alesana Tuilagi
10 Derick Hougaard
9 Ben Youngs
1 Boris Stankovich
2 Mefin Davies
3 Dan Cole
4 Sam Raven
5 Ben Kay
6 Dan Hemingway
7 Seb Pearson
8 Brett Deacon (c)

16 George Chuter
17 Santiago Bonorino
18 Marco Wentzel
19 Tom Armes
20 Sam Harrison
21 Matt Smith
22 Will Hurrell