Leicester Tigers kick off the second half of the Gallagher Premiership season on Friday evening with a home game against an in-form London Irish at Mattioli Woods Welford Road (7.45pm kick-off).
Irish have been beaten just once in any competition since early December – losing only to defending champions at Exeter Chiefs in that time – as they sit two places and five points above the ninth-placed Tigers going into Round 12.
The last four matches between the two clubs have been won by the home side on the day, including the first meeting this season when Tigers were the opening visitors to Irish’s new home at Brentford Community Stadium.
Last season’s corresponding fixture brought a 13-7 win for Tigers with wing David Williams claiming his first senior score for the club while on loan from Nottingham.
London Irish’s only victory in Leicester since 2003 was in September 2014, but Declan Kidney’s side did record a 16-10 win away to Wasps last weekend with a try from wing Ollie Hassell-Collins and the kicking of fly-half Paddy Jackson.
Overall the two teams have met on 67 previous occasions dating back nearly 100 years with Leicester winning 55 to 11 by Irish and one game drawn.
In team news announced on Thursday lunchtime, Tigers bring Freddie Steward and Matt Scott into the backline, with Zack Henry reunited with Richard Wigglesworth at half-back. Luan de Bruin, Dan Cole and Calum Green return to the forward pack and Cyle Brink wears the No8 shirt.
Scrum-half Wigglesworth, ahead of his 295th Premiership appearance, said: “Irish are a good side. Paddy Jackson has settled in at 10 and makes a real difference as a playmaker controlling things for them. They can play in different ways and are well coached.”
Reflecting on the Round 11 match against Bristol Bears last weekend, he added: “A lot of young players really stepped up. We were really pleased with the effort but we want results on the back of that. We’re learning how we go about putting more pressure on a team like that and converting some of the chances we had.”
London Irish bring props Will Goodrick-Clarke and Lovejoy Chawatama into the front row alongside Argentina international hooker Agustin Creevy for Friday’s encounter and include former Leicester players Steve Mafi and Terrence Hepetema in the starting line-up.
“Heading to Welford Road on a Friday night is always a daunting task, but one that we are looking forward to,” said their director of rugby, Declan Kidney.
Wayne Barnes, the top flight’s most experienced match official, is in charge for the 235th time in Premiership rugby.
There is live coverage of the game on BT Sport 1, with the Match Pass service available to season ticket holders without a subscription.
Or keep in touch throughout the weekend with the club’s website, app and social media, including Matchday Live from the stadium.