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Fit-Again Rabeni on Leicester Tigers' Bench

22 December 2004

22 December 2004
Leicester Tigers head coach John Wells has announced a powerful line-up for next Monday's Zurich Premiership fixture against Worcester Warriors at Welford Road (kick-off 3pm), with Fijian back Seru Rabeni making his return from injury via the bench.

Rabeni's last match for Tigers was against Worcester, at Sixways on November 13, but a nagging knee injury has kept him out of action since then. Rabeni - still the leading try-scorer in the Zurich Premiership, despite his lay-off - was expected to be out for a few weeks only, but he had complications after undergoing an arthroscopy.

"It was a flare-up of a different, but older injury, which caused the extension to his delay," explained Wells. "It was never a serious injury, it was just a case of him going through the proper rehabilitation process."

The Tigers side gets a complete overhaul after last week's 13-20 loss to Gloucester in the Powergen Cup, with Geordan Murphy, Daryl Gibson, Andy Goode, Graham Rowntree, Julian White, Martin Johnson, Neil Back and Martin Corry all returning to the starting XV.

"Nobody's too uptight about the Gloucester game," said Wells. "It's disappointing that those guys aren't going to get another crack in three or four weeks' time, but it's time to move on against Worcester."

England scrum-half Harry Ellis returns to Tigers' 22, but he has to be content with a place on the bench only, whilst there is no sign of centre-cum-wing Leon Lloyd, who started Leicester's last three matches.

"Harry's a bit under the weather at the moment, so we're giving him a break on the bench. We've got full faith in Scott and he gets another chance against Worcester, like he did in November," said Wells. "Lloydy has played three games on the trot and his knee is giving him a bit of aggravation at the moment, we thought it would be prudent to give him a break. As it turns out, Austin pulled up at training today, and if he can't make the Worcester game, Leon would have to come in for him."

And on the challenge of facing the Premiership new-boys, who have made a good start to their first season in the top-flight, Wells added: "Since our game, Worcester have beaten Northampton and Wasps and they've beaten Rovigo twice in the European Shield. Whilst they got beat by London Irish, at home, at the weekend, it was their first turnover in a while; this team, if it's given opportunities to play, is a good Premiership side and improving as the season goes along.

"In the past, Rotherham, and Leeds to a lesser extent, struggled in their first seasons, but Worcester acquired some good players in the summer. It was always going to take them some time to get those players to gel, but the fact that they've taken points off well-known teams is indicative of what I've been saying about them. They're a side going forward, and so are we, and I'd like to think that if everyone turns up and performs on Monday it will not only be a good game, but also a good performance from us."

Leicester Tigers team to face Worcester Warriors:

15 Geordan Murphy
14 Tom Varndell
13 Ollie Smith
12 Daryl Gibson
11 Austin Healey
10 Andy Goode
9 Scott Bemand
1 Graham Rowntree
2 George Chuter
3 Julian White
4 Martin Johnson (captain)
5 Louis Deacon
6 Will Johnson
7 Neil Back
8 Martin Corry

Replacements:

16 James Buckland
17 Darren Morris
18 Ben Kay
19 Lewis Moody
20 Harry Ellis
21 Seru Rabeni
22 Sam Vesty