Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
leicestertigers.comMattioli Woods Welford RoadContact UsTopps Tiles
Rugby News

Preview | Tigers head to Connacht

Ellis Genge says the pool stages of the Heineken Champions Cup this season provides “two new challenges” for Leicester Tigers.

Tigers go to The Sportsground in Galway for the first time in competitive action on Saturday to face a Connacht side who are in their seventh season of Champions Cup rugby.

Tigers’ only previous trip to Connacht’s home ground was in a pre-season fixture in 2005 as the Irish venue becomes the 46th stadium to host a Leicester team in European competition.

Genge, who made his 100th appearance for Tigers in last Sunday’s league game at Wasps, said: “I’ve only played in one of the Champions Cup games so far, but the atmosphere has been great, the boys have prepared very well. I think we’ve attacked it really well.

“Playing in the Champions Cup is special for everyone. There is a different feel to it.

“We had never played at Bordeaux before, we’ve never played at Connacht. So they are two brilliant new challenges for us.

“Connacht are a good outfit, they played really well over at Leicester before Christmas. They’re a team of fighters, a team of believers, and I think they play some good rugby.”

Both teams started the Heineken Champions Cup campaign with victory over French opposition, as Connacht took maximum points from a win over Stade Francais while Tigers beat Bordeaux-Bègles away.

In the Round 2 meeting of the two teams, Tigers recorded a 29-23 win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road six days before Christmas with tries from Nic Dolly, Bryce Hegarty, Freddie Steward and Hosea Saumaki.

Tigers have not won three in a row in the competition since 2015/16.

The top eight in each 12-team pool qualify for the knockout stages, with Connacht currently in sixth place on six points and Tigers in third on nine.

In team news announced on Friday, Jasper Wiese returns to the Tigers forward pack following a two-match ban and there are places in the backline for Freddie Burns, Bryce Hegarty and Juan Pablo Socino.

Fiji international Kini Murimurivalu starts on the wing after providing cover in the back row in recent weeks. Academy graduate Tom Manz is included as second-row cover on the bench and could make his senior debut.

Connacht show just three changes from the starting line-up that ran out at Leicester in December with Matt Healy named on the wing, Shane Delahunt starting at hooker and Oisin Dowling joining Niall Murray in the second row.

They will be led by fly-half Jack Carty who kicked a late drop goal in that Round 2 defeat to bank a losing bonus point from the trip to Leicester, and the backline includes British & Irish Lions centre Bundee Aki alongside full-back Tiernan O’Halloran and scrum-half Kieran Marmion who are both approaching 200 games for the province.

Referee is Mathieu Raynal of France, who was also in charge of the first meeting of the teams in Round 2.

Sportsground capacity is restricted to 5,000 for this fixture in line with Irish government guidelines.

If you are not attending the game, there is live coverage with BT Sport, or follow the club’s Matchday Live service on the website and app, with full reaction afterwards.