Ten-try Murphy has started the last four games among the replacements, joining the action in time to score in the win over Benetton Treviso and grab a bonus-point try in the closing seconds of the match at London Wasps two weeks ago.
Murphy’s selection means a switch to the full-back role for Scott Hamilton in the only changes to the backline following last Saturday’s five-try win over Worcester Warriors at Welford Road.
Mefin Davies and Dan Cole are drafted into the front row, while South African duo Marco Wentzel and Derick Hougaard take their place among the replacements on their return from injury.
George Chuter, who is with the England squad in Dublin as cover for his front-row colleagues ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Ireland, is included among the Leicester replacements. If he is not released by England, his place on the Tigers bench will go to Greg Sammons.
“We played some good stuff against Worcester last Saturday, though we know we need to improve on our execution this week,” said acting head coach Richard Cockerill.
“We have a tight-knit group of players and we need to transfer that spirit into points and results.”
Richard Blaze (foot), Dan Hipkiss (knee), Lewis Moody (ankle), Seru Rabeni (knee), Boris Stankovich (groin) and Ben Herring (head) are unavailable for selection due to injury.
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Leicester Tigers (v London Irish, away, Sunday 1pm)
15 Scott Hamilton
14 Johne Murphy
13 Matt Smith
12 Aaron Mauger (captain)
11 Alesana Tuilagi
10 Sam Vesty
9 Julien Dupuy
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Mefin Davies
3 Dan Cole
4 Louis Deacon
5 Ben Kay
6 Craig Newby
7 Ben Woods
8 Jordan Crane