Leicester Tigers go to London Irish in the Aviva Premiership season on Saturday, in the final round of action before attention transfers to European competition next week.
Tigers have bounced back from defeat in the opening two rounds to beat Gloucester, Harlequins and defending champions Exeter Chiefs to sit sixth in the early-season table.
Head coach Matt O’Connor was happy to take four points from the 20-13 victory over Exeter Chiefs but says he is still looking for improvement.
“There is still huge growth in individuals and the combinations in the team and we have to keep getting better with Europe just around the corner,” he said.
“One of the most pleasing things from last Saturday was that everybody made a massive contribution. Greg Bateman came in and was exceptional, the blokes off the bench – George McGuigan and Tino Mapapalangi – had big involvements.
“Now we need to make sure we have momentum going into Europe.”
Team news was announced by both camps on Friday lunchtime, with Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor handing debuts to centre Gareth Owen and lock Dan Tuohy, and bringing Valentino Mapapalangi, George McGuigan and Sam Harrison into the starting line-up.
Tigers have a good record against Irish, with just one defeat in the last 15 meetings in all competitions – that one coming at Welford Road in September 2014 – and 52 wins from a total of 62 previous encounters.
But there are some familiar faces in Irish ranks hoping that their inside knowledge can help to turn the tables.
Sebastian De Chaves, Tommy Bell and Tigers academy graduates Greig Tonks, Alex Lewington and Scott Steele are among the key men at the Madejski Stadium as Irish look to establish themselves back in the top flight after promotion in the summer.
Facing his former club, second-rower De Chaves said: “It’s about how we perform as a team, but naturally you’re always going to want to prove yourself against a former club.
“There are still a few players in the Leicester team that I know from my time as a player there, so it will be an interesting afternoon all round.”
Referee for Saturday is JP Doyle in his 138th Premiership match in charge.
Tigers will be in the club’s white alternate kit at the Madejski Stadium.
Tickets can be purchased at www.lidirect.co.uk or by phoning 0118 968 1016. Kick-off is at 3.00pm.