Leicester Tigers host Newcastle Falcons on Sunday in Round 15 of the Gallagher Premiership and the final weekend before European competition returns.
The clubs are positioned in eighth and ninth in the league table going into this round, with just three points separating the hosts from Dean Richards’ Falcons as the former Leicester player, captain and director of rugby returns to Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Tigers include George Ford and Ellis Genge in the starting line-up after their return from the Six Nations, and George Martin is back in club colours after making his England debut against Ireland last weekend.
For the visitors, Alex Tait makes his 250th Falcons appearance since his debut in January 2008. The younger brother of Tigers favourite Mathew, he becomes the sixth player in the professional era to reach the 250 mark for the club.
England flanker Mark Wilson returns as captain, centre Pete Lucock makes his first start in Premiership rugby and 21-year-old wing Morgan Passman is in line for his debut from the bench.
Former Tigers hooker George McGuigan is named among the replacements but Toby Flood, Logovi’i Mulipola and Gareth Owen miss out on a chance to go head to head with former colleagues.
Falcons back-rower Will Welch, who made his comeback from injury in the home defeat by Wasps last week, faces the team for whom his grandfather Rex Skelton played nearly 200 times between 1956-70.
Eyeing the opposition, Welsh said: “[Leicester] have gone back to their old traditional ways, from what I’ve seen. They have a strong set-piece, they love a line-out maul and they’re a big set of lads. Whenever you go down to Welford Road the set-piece battle is always massive.
“If we can go on a run and string together a few results then things begin to look a lot different, but the way you do that is just the boring old answer of taking one game at a time and concentrating on the next challenge, which for us is Leicester on Sunday.”
This is the first meeting of the teams in the 2020/21 season after the game at Kingston Park scheduled for Christmas was cancelled.
Newcastle’s last win over Tigers was in April 2018 on their way to a fourth-placed finish, edging their rivals out of the semi-final places.
The clubs have met on 60 previous occasions, with Leicester winning 44 to Newcastle’s 13 and three games drawn.
There is live coverage on BT Sport 1 as games remain behind closed doors and any Tigers season ticket holders without a subscription can apply for a BT Sport Match Pass to follow the action. Full details will be in your email baskets now from the Tigers ticket office.
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