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Leicester stick with Bok-style bench as Pollard starts versus Farrell

By Liam Heagney
Leicester's Handre Pollard (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Leicester have decided to stick with their new Springboks-like tactic of a six/two forwards/backs bench split when they play host to Saracens on Saturday in the Gallagher Premiership.

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Having gone with a five/three division in his replacements for the opening 11 league and Champions Cup matches this season, Dan McKellar changed tack with his plan B after the pre-Christmas defeat at Exeter.

Tigers were comfortably beaten 29-10 at Sandy Park that December day, leaving them off the pace in the lower half of the Premiership.

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It resulted in their Australian head coach opting for a six/two split for last weekend’s momentum-regaining 35-22 win over Bath, bringing back row duo Olly Cracknell and Kyle Hatherell off the bench on 52 and 61 minutes respectively for Tommy Reffell and Jasper Wiese.

With defending champions Saracens next up at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, McKeller has decided to go with this same tactic of having a second back row option amongst the replacements to bolster his first unchanged starting line-up of the season.

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The only change to the match day 23 is the return of fit-again Ben Youngs as the sub scrum-half following Thursday’s immediate effect departure of short-term signing Joe Powell.

McKeller said: “The group that started against Bath came out with the required physical intent and were excellent for 45 minutes, so we have rewarded that. But we know we must be good for the 80 this week.”

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Saracens have made eight changes to their starting XV, including the recall of skipper Owen Farrell at No10 in direct opposition to Handre Pollard, following their 37-19 success against Newcastle.

Sam Crean, Kapeli Pifeleti, Maro Itoje and Ben Earl are their four forward changes, with Gareth Simpson, Nick Tompkins and Tom Parton added to their backs.

LEICESTER: 15. Freddie Steward; 14. Harry Simmons, 13. Dan Kelly, 12. Solomone Kata, 11. Mike Brown; 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Tom Whiteley; 1. James Cronin, 2. Julian Montoya (capt), 3. Joe Heyes, 4. George Martin, 5. Ollie Chessum, 6. Matt Rogerson, 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Jasper Wiese. Reps: 16. Finn Theobold-Thomas, 17. Francois van Wyk, 18. Will Hurd, 19. Harry Wells, 20. Kyle Hatherell, 21. Olly Cracknell, 22. Ben Youngs, 23. Jamie Shillcock.

SARACENS: 15. Tom Parton; 14. Rotimi Segun, 13. Elliot Daly, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Lucio Cinti; 10 Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Gareth Simpson; 1. Sam Crean, 2. Kapeli Pifeleti, 3. Christian Judge, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Hugh Tizard, 6. Theo McFarland, 7. Juan Martin Gonzalez, 8. Ben Earl. Reps: 16. Theo Dan, 17. Logovi’i Mulipola, 18. Ollie Hoskins, 19. Nick Isiekwe, 20. Andy Christie, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Manu Vunipola, 23. Alex Lewington.

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