Aviva Premiership preview: Exeter v Leicester
Last Updated: 23/03/13 10:32am
Exeter boss Rob Baxter has made two changes to his pack for Saturday's sell-out Aviva Premiership clash with Leicester who welcome back their international big guns.
Prop Hoani Tui comes in for Alex Brown and Aussie lock Dean Mumm returns in place of Tommy Hayes as Baxter largely keeps faith with the team which upset champions Harlequins at the Stoop two weeks ago.
The Chiefs have not played since that stunning victory and the break has allowed prop Brett Sturgess (arm) and Chris Whitehead (neck) to recover from injuries, through both start on the bench.
Joining them on the bench - for a first time in the Premiership - will be England U20s starlet Henry Slade, whose superb displays in the recent U20s Six Nations tournament raised eyebrows.
Exeter badly need a victory to maintain their push for Heineken Cup rugby next season, whilst Leicester are sitting pretty in third, with a five-point cushion ahead of Northampton.
They welcome back their international contingent: England players Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Tom Croft, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi all return to the starting line-up.
Martin Castrogiovanni returns on the bench, having recovered from the injury which forced him to miss Italy's last match against Ireland.
Fly-half Flood will lead out the Tigers as captain for the first time in the absence of both Geordan Murphy and Louis Deacon.
Exeter: 15 L Arscott, 14 J Nowell, 13 S Naqelevuki, 12 P Dollman, 11 M Jess, 10 G Steenson, 9 H Thomas, 1 C Rimmer, 2 J Yeandle, 3 H Tui, 4 D Mumm, 5 D Welch, 6 B White, 7 J Scaysbrook, 8 R Baxter
Replacements: 16 C Whitehead, 17 B Sturgess, 18 C Mitchell, 19 J Hanks, 20 D Ewers, 21 W Chudley, 22 H Slade, 23 I Whitten
Leicester: 15 M Tait, 14 N Morris, 13 M Tuilagi, 12 A Allen, 11 A Thompstone, 10 T Flood, 9 B Youngs, 1 M Ayerza 2 T Youngs, 3 D Cole, 4 E Slater, 5 G Parling, 6 T Croft, 7 J Salvi, 8 J Crane
Replacements: 16 R Hawkins, 17 L Mulipola, 18 M Castrogiovanni, 19 T Waldrom, 20 G Kitchener, 21 S Harrison, 22 G Ford, 23 M Smith
What they said...
Exeter boss Rob Baxter
"We know we are not in danger of relegation, but we are in a group who can push on and achieve things. Whether that's fighting to get into the top four or whether it's fighting to get into the Heineken Cup, those things are still attainable to us right now. And if they are attainable, I expect us to fight tooth and nail to get them
"It's an important game, it's a sell-out and everybody is aware it's a great challenge and that it's getting to the business end of the season. We are fully aware it's an important game for Leicester, but equally it's a very important game for Exeter."
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said
"It's great to have everyone back for the start of the run-in, we've had a good week back together this week and now we just want to get back out on the field.
"Exeter have a very good record at home but every game from now until the end of the season is massive for us and we have to get it right."