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Varndell's Leicester return gets closer

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After almost 10 years Varndell set for return to a Leicester Tigers shirt

Premiership Rugby’s record tryscorer Tom Varndell and Italy international wing Leonardo Sarto both start for Leicester Tigers in Saturday’s Premiership Rugby Cup tie against Northampton Saints.

Varndell made his last appearance for the club in the Premiership semi-final win over Bath in 2009 before spells with Wasps, Scarlets, Bristol and in France, and he comes into the team after playing for Nottingham in the last two weeks.

Varndell is rated as the Gallagher Premiership’s 11th best left winger in the RugbyPass Index, with an overall RPI of 61, but with impressive stats of 81 for Influence and 84 for Territorial Kick Meters.

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The 33-year-old scored 65 tries in 113 appearances for the Tigers and is also Premiership Rugby’s record tryscorer with 92 in top-flight rugby.

Sarto, who has eight tries in 34 Test appearances, joins Varndell and Jordan Olowofela in the back three and Sam Aspland-Robinson starts for the first time in a Tigers shirt.

Coach Brett Deacon includes England Under-20s caps Joe Heyes and Sam Lewis, and Wales Under-20s captain Tommy Reffell in the forward pack in a team captained by Harry Wells.

Fred Tuilagi, son of former Tigers wing Freddie and nephew to Henry, Alesana and Manu, is named at number 8. The 6’3, 120kg Halifax born Tuilagi transitioned to backrow during his time in the Tigers academy, after originally starting out as a front row.

Academy prospects Taylor Gough, Jonny Law and Freddie Steward are among the replacements alongside loan signing Curtis Wilson (Doncaster Knights).

Leicester Tigers team v Northampton:
15 Jordan Olowofela
14 Leonardo Sarto
13 Sam Aspland-Robinson
12 Tom Hardwick
11 Tom Varndell
10 Joe Ford
9 Ben White

1 Facundo Gigena
2 Ross McMillan
3 Joe Heyes
4 Sam Lewis
5 Harry Wells (c)
6 Tommy Reffell
7 Will Evans
8 Fred Tuilagi

Replacements

16 Harry Mahohey
17 Campese Ma’afu
18 David Feao
19 Cameron Jordan
20 Taylor Gough
21 Jonny Law
22 Curtis Wilson
23 Freddie Steward

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After almost 10 years Varndell set for return to a Leicester Tigers shirt