Club Rugby

Tuilagi returns to Tigers’ starting XV after three game break

manu tuilagiManu Tuilagi, Brendon O’Connor and Ed Slater return from injury to start for Leicester Tigers in Friday’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Round 13 trip to Harlequins.

Tuilagi has missed the last three games with a hamstring strain, while O’Connor makes his first appearance since the derby match against Northampton Saints in early January after a hamstring injury. Club captain Slater returns after a seven-week absence with a knee injury.

There is also a place in the matchday squad for the first time for former South Africa captain Jean de Villiers who is named among the replacements. De Villiers has recovered from the fractured jaw which cut short his World Cup and a subsequent calf problem which has delayed his debut for Tigers.

Mathew Tait reverts to full-back to accommodate the return of Tuilagi at centre, with Telusa Veainu joining Peter Betham on the wings.

Slater is joined by Mike Fitzgerald in the second row. Laurence Pearce follows his try-scoring appearance at Newcastle last week with a recall to the back row alongside Tom Croft and O’Connor.

Leicester Tigers (v Harlequins, away, Friday 7.45pm)

15 Mathew Tait

14 Peter Betham

13 Matt Smith

12 Manu Tuilagi

11 Telusa Veainu

10 Freddie Burns

9 Sam Harrison

1 Marcos Ayerza

2 Leonardo Ghiraldini

3 Fraser Balmain

4 Ed Slater (c)

5 Mike Fitzgerald

6 Tom Croft

7 Brendon O’Connor

8 Laurence Pearce

Replacements

16 Harry Thacker

17 Riccardo Brugnara

18 Logovi’i Mulipola

19 Graham Kitchener

20 Jordan Crane

21 Jono Kitto

22 Oli Bryant

23 Jean de Villiers

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