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Watson and Gopperth to make Tigers debut this Friday

Anthony Watson of the British & Irish Lions runs with the ball during the 1st Test match between the South Africa Springboks and the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on July 24, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England back Anthony Watson will return to action after a 10-month injury absence when he makes his Leicester debut on Friday.


Watson lines up at full-back for the Premiership champions’ pre-season friendly away to Jersey Reds.

Watson, who moved to Tigers from Bath earlier this summer, has not played since suffering a serious knee injury in October last year.

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The 28-year-old is joined in Leicester’s starting XV by fellow newcomers Jimmy Gopperth, Phil Cokanasiga and Olly Cracknell.

Included in the 30-man squad are eight players who will make their first appearance for the club on Friday evening at Stade Santander International.

Hanro Liebenberg leads the side for the first time since his appointment as club captain.

The new skipper starts at No8, alongside George Martin and Olly Cracknell in the Leicester back-row.


Starting up front is Charlie Clare at hooker, with Francois van Wyk and Dan Cole as the starting props.

Harry Wells and Eli Snyman are the starting second-row.

Tom Cowan-Dickie, Joe Taufete’e, James Cronin, James Whitcombe, Will Hurd and Nephi Leatigaga are the replacement front-rowers, while Finn Carnduff, Cameron Henderson and Sean Jansen are the fellow forwards on the Tigers bench.

Ben Youngs and Freddie Burns are the starting half-backs with Jimmy Gopperth and Phil Cokanasiga making up the Leicester midfield.


In the back-three, Anthony Watson makes his first club appearance at full-back alongside Nemani Nadolo and Harry Potter.

Sam Edwards, Bryce Hegarty, Matt Scott, Joe Browning, Kini Murimurivalu and Lachlan Shelley are the replacement backs.

15 Anthony Watson
14 Harry Potter
13 Phil Cokanasiga
12 Jimmy Gopperth
11 Nemani Nadolo
10 Freddie Burns
9 Ben Youngs
1 Francois van Wyk
2 Charlie Clare
3 Dan Cole
4 Harry Wells
5 Eli Snyman
6 George Martin
7 Olly Cracknell
8 Hanro Liebenberg (c)

REPLACEMENTS: Tom Cowan-Dickie, Joe Taufete’e, James Cronin, James Whitcombe, Will Hurd, Nephi Leatigaga, Cameron Henderson, Finn Carnduff, Sean Jansen, Sam Edwards, Bryce Hegarty, Matt Scott, Joe Browning, Kini Murimurivalu, Lachlan Shelley


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