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Leicester change six and prime ex-Wasps back for debut off bench

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Stephen White/CameraSport via Getty Images

Richard Wigglesworth has made six changes to his Leicester team for Friday night’s Heineken Champions Cup round-of-16 clash at home to Edinburgh following last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership success over Bristol. Tigers were 46-24 winners over the Bears last Saturday to consolidate their league title retention bid and they have now rung the changes for the visit of the Scottish URC franchise.

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Freddie Steward, who had his recent England red card rescinded, Guy Porter and Jack van Poortvliet take over from Mike Brown, Matt Scott and Ben Youngs in the backs. In the pack, there are inclusions for James Cronin, Dan Cole and Tommy Reffell at the expense of Tom West, Joe Heyes and Jasper Wiese.

In the replacements, midfielder Dan Kelly is in line for his return from injury after being sidelined for 10 weeks and ex-Wasps scrum-half Sam Wolstenholme will make his Leicester debut following his January signing on a short-term deal.

Edinburgh, meanwhile, welcome the return of several Scotland stars. Prop Pierre Schoeman, back row duo Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson, and wing Duhan van der Merwe all return to the starting line-up with head coach Mike Blair making five changes to the XV that lost at Connacht last weekend. WP Nel at tighthead is the other alteration as the Scots make a first visit to Welford Road since the 2007/08 campaign.

Blair said: “These are the occasions you truly relish as a player and it’s a privilege to lead this club into our biggest game of the season. Some of Edinburgh’s biggest moments have come on the European stage and we understand how significant this match is to everyone connected to the club. It will be a brilliant moment, going up against the English Champions on their home patch. We are hugely excited.”

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LEICESTER: 15. Freddie Steward; 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Guy Porter, 12. Jimmy Gopperth, 11. Harry Potter; 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Jack van Poortvliet; 1. James Cronin, 2. Julian Montoya (capt), 3. Dan Cole, 4. George Martin, 5. Cameron Henderson, 6. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Olly Cracknell. Reps: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. Tom West, 18. Joe Heyes, 19. Eli Snyman, 20. Jasper Wiese, 21. Sam Wolstenholme, 22. Charlie Atkinson, 23. Dan Kelly.

EDINBURGH: 15. Emiliano Boffelli; 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. James Lang, 11. Duhan van der Merwe; 10. Blair Kinghorn, 9. Henry Pyrgos; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. WP Nel, 4. Sam Skinner, 5. Grant Gilchrist (co-capt), 6. Jamie Ritchie (co-capt), 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Viliame Mata. Reps: 16. Dave Cherry, 17. Boan Venter, 18. Luan de Bruin, 19. Marshall Sykes, 20. Luke Crosbie, 21. Ben Vellacott, 22. Cammy Hutchison, 23. Damien Hoyland.

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