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Homecoming for the champions this Friday

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English champions Leicester Tigers return to Welford Road this Friday for their final pre-season fixture, against 2009 European champions Leinster.

The first home game since the Premiership semi-final win over Bath in May, director of rugby Richard Cockerill says he hopes to name the “strongest side available” as he puts the finishing touches to preparations for the new season.

“This is our last game before the start of the season, so there’s not much time left,” said Cockerill who led Tigers to a second successive Premiership title last season.

“This is our last chance before we go to Northampton in the league. We’re going to work hard this week and we need to be sharp and ready for Friday.”

The Leinster match represents the second part of an Irish double for Tigers, following the 17-13 win over Munster in Cork last Friday.

Alesana Tuilagi scored both tries in Ireland as Cockerill welcomed back captain Geordan Murphy and the England internationals for their first taste of pre-season action.

“That was not far off our strongest side and for Leinster it will probably be similar, the strongest side available,” said Cockerill.

“It’s another week closer to the start of the season so we need to keep working and building towards that opening game.”

Though Munster were without their senior internationals, they led 13-10 in the second half before Tigers fought back and Cockerill said he was pleased with the work-out.

“We created some chances, we did some really good things and Alesana scored two nice tries,” he said. “It was just a little bit frustrating that we didn’t finish more of our chances and our turnover count was too high.

“It was pretty much Munster’s second string, but they put up a great game, they battled hard.”

The Munster game also featured a first appearance in the pre-season period from Manu Tuilagi, used as a second-half replacement and lining up on the opposite wing to his older brother.

“Manu’s impact was great, he’s got good footwork and he’s put himself into the frame,” said Cockerill. “We’ll have the chance to have a look at him again next weekend.”

The only injury news to report was the replacement of Jordan Crane during the second half with an ankle injury. “We’ll see how it goes over the next day or two but it doesn’t look too bad,” said Cockerill.

Tickets for Friday’s match against Leinster are available now. Season ticket holders can gain free admission on production of their season ticket card. Tickets for all other supporters are £10 adult, £5 junior, £25 family (2 adults, 2 children). Contact the Tigers ticket office now. Call the hotline on 0844 856 1880, book online or visit the ticket office at Welford Road.

The first home game in the Aviva Premiership Rugby season is against newly-promoted Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, September 11 (5.30pm). Tickets are available now.