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Tuilagi stood down but struggling Tigers still have many big guns for Big Game 12 at Harlequins

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Jaco Taute and Kyle Eastmond return to the Leicester Tigers line-up for Saturday’s trip to face Harlequins at Twickenham Stadium.


The duo team up at centre for this weekend’s round seven Gallagher Premiership clash season with Noel Reid reverting to the bench and Manu Tuilagi sitting it out as the only changes to the backline following last Saturday’s home defeat to Exeter Chiefs.

In the forwards, there is a place for Sam Lewis in the back row alongside Jordan Taufua and Sione Kalamafoni, with Calum Green moving into the second row alongside Tomas Lavanini after Will Spencer’s head-knock against the Chiefs.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said: “Manu pulled up sore after a busy game last Saturday and a lot of carries, so we want to manage him during what is a long season and so have decided to stand him down this week.

“Kyle and Jaco have trained a lot together this season and worked together in the midfield, so we’re confident they will partner up well for us on Saturday.

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“We did a lot of good things in the first hour against Exeter and scored three good tries. But we missed out on a few attacking opportunities in the second half and I think if you can capitalise on one of those, then it’s a very different game. Now we have to build on the work from the first 60 minutes and put out a big performance.”

Meanwhile, scrum-half Danny Care will become the only Harlequins player to have played in every edition of Big Game since it was first played in 2008. Boss Paul Gustard has named an unchanged pack from the side that beat Wasps last weekend at the Ricoh Arena, with only two changes in the backs.

American centre Paul Lasike replaces the injured James Lang at 12, while Fijian international winger Vereniki Goneva makes his first Gallagher Premiership start for Harlequins against his former club.


Gustard said: “Big Game is such an important fixture for the club and a special one to be a part of for not only the players, coaches and staff, but also for the supporters who turn out in their numbers to enjoy an outstanding day of sport at Twickenham.

“All that said, of critical importance to me and the players is the simple fact that it is the next game and the next opportunity for us to move forward with our collective performance and build momentum in the league.

“While we have had a couple of days with our families and away from the club, my mind doesn’t waver too far from the challenge this formidable Leicester Tigers side presents. It will be a great occasion and a thrilling contest and one we need our supporters to be in full voice for. We want our song to roll like thunder down the stands and help inspire our team to excellence.”

HARLEQUINS: 15. Ross Chisholm; 14. Cadan Murley, 13. Michele Campagnaro, 12. Paul Lasike, 11. Vereniki Goneva; 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Elia Elia, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Stephan Lewies, 5. Matt Symons, 6. James Chisholm, 7. Chris Robshaw (capt), 8. Tom Lawday. Reps: 16. Jack Musk, 17. Santiago Garcia Botta, 18. Will Collier, 19. Tevita Cavubati, 20. Alex Dombrandt, 21. Martin Landajo, 22. Brett Herron, 23. Gabriel Ibitoye.

LEICESTER: 15. Telusa Veainu; 14. Adam Thompstone, 13. Jaco Taute, 12. Kyle Eastmond, 11. Jonny May; 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Ellis Genge, 2. Tom Youngs (capt), 3. Dan Cole, 4. Tomas Lavanini, 5. Calum Green, 6. Sam Lewis, 7. Jordan Taufua, 8. Sione Kalamafoni. Reps: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Facundo Gigena, 18. Nephi Leatigaga, 19. Harry Wells, 20. Tommy Reffell, 21. Ben White, 22. Noel Reid, 23. George Worth.

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