Director of Rugby/ Head Coach: Richard Cockerel and Aaron Mauger
Captain: Tom Youngs
Stadium: Welford Road (Capacity: 25,800)
Last Season: 4th
Leicester were a changed team last season just as happy to spread the ball wide as they were to crash through the middle.
Cockerill’s influence has seen Leicester become one again renowned for their physical, powerful scrum including the likes of Puma Marcos Ayerza and England international Dan Cole. Former All Black Aaron Mauger however has made their backline the star attraction at Welford Road.
Leicester’s formidable set piece is built on having a belligerent front row and with the capture of Bristol’s Ellis Genge they have bolstered their options here. They build quick first phase ball off either a scrum or line-out.
The backs had some real pace last season bursting up the middle using quick feet and with a midfield boasting the considerable size of Manu Tuilagi the Tigers will be strong behind the scrum.
THREE TO WATCH
Position: Flanker Nationality: New Zealander Age: 26 Height: 1.86m Weight: 102kg
The specialist Kiwi openside was limited to only a few performances last season and we are yet to see his best.
His breakdown work is fast and effective and the way in which he commands the fringes is quite superb as well as having a devastating tackle.
Position: Centre Nationality: English Age: 25 Height: 1.85m Weight: 110kg
The Samoan born centre is an absolute machine, his power and weight make him a nightmare for fly-halves. He also has some turn of pace for a man his size.
He provides go forward ball and crosses the gain line allowing pacey wingers like Betham to thrive in the open spaces. His power in defence is also frightening although his willingness to make a hit can leave a hole in the Leicester defence.
Position: Fullback/ Wing Nationality: Tongan Age: 25 Height: 1.80m Weight: 103kg
Arguably the signing of last season for Leicester. The fullback is electric, he was winning over many of the fans last season it’s easy to see why Aaron Mauger is such a fan of the Tongan back.
His dancing feet and sizzling pace make him so dangerous from all over the field, he breaks lines and stands defenders up, such a talented player with so much to give.
Tom Brady (Sale Sharks, ENG)
Pat Cilliers (Montpellier Herault, FRA)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Rugby, ENG)
Luke Hamilton (SU Agen, FRA)
George McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons, ENG)
JP Pietersen (Natal Sharks, SAF)
Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies, AUS)
Matias Aguero (Provence, FRA)
Seremaia Bai (Retired, RET)
Tommy Bell (London Irish, ENG)
Miles Benjamin (Retired, RET)
Jordan Crane (Bristol Rugby, ENG)
Sebastian De Chaves (London Irish, ENG)
Jean de Villiers (Retired, RET)
Opeti Fonua (Newcastle Falcons, ENG)
Leonardo Ghiraldini (Toulouse, FRA)
Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons, ENG)
Christian Loamanu (Provence, FRA)
Niall Morris (Leinster, IRE)
Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton Treviso, ITA)
Laurence Pearce (Sale Sharks, ENG)
George Tressider (Rotherham Titans, ENG)
Michael van Vuuren (Bath Rugby, ENG)
Matt Toomua is a huge coup and provides Leicester with a second playmaker option at 12 as well as cover for fly-half. Pietersen adds some pace out wide. Genge having recently toured with England is one of the most promising props around.
A sad end for Jean de Villiers who retires along with a host of other stars. Crane will be a loss as he joins Premiership rival Bristol and Goneva who has been Leicester’s standout performer will be greatly missed as he joins Newcastle.
My Leicester Tigers 23: 15 Telusa Veainu 14 Peter Betham 13 Manu Tuilagi 12 Matt Toomua 11 JP Pietersen 10 Freddie Burns 9 Ben Youngs (Captain)
1 Marcos Ayerza 2 Harry Thacker 3 Dan Cole 4 Ed Slater 5 Dominic Barrow 6 Tom Croft 7 Brendon O’Connor 8 Lachlan McCaffrey
16 Tom Youngs 17 Ellis Genge 18 Logovi’i Mulipola 19 Graham Kitchener 20 Will Evans 21 Sam Harrison 22 Owen Williams 23 Mathew Tait
Leicester Tigers are certainly looking like a real force once again.