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Team news ahead of Leicester Tigers vs London Wasps

12 December 2004

England lock Ben Kay has been recalled to the starting XV for Leicester Tigers' crucial Heineken Cup Pool 1 return leg against defending champions, London Wasps, at Welford Road on Sunday. Kay replaces Louis Deacon in the No.5 shirt - the only change to the side that defeated Wasps 37-31 at the Causeway Stadium last weekend.

Kay, who warmed the bench for England during their autumn international campaign against Canada, South Africa and Australia, makes his first start for Tigers since their 28-13 Zurich Premiership win over Gloucester - at Welford Road - on Saturday, November 6.

"Ben gives us fresh legs this week and it's a little bit of a change for Wasps to deal with," explained Tigers head coach John Wells after announcing his team on Thursday. "I was delighted with Louis' performance last week, and indeed over the last couple of weeks, but as I said before, and I'll say it again, I've got three quality second rows and can afford to use them accordingly."

Unfortunately, try-scoring sensation Seru Rabeni remains sidelined with the knee injury that has hampered him since Leicester's 38-11 win over the Worcester Warriors on November 13. Leon Lloyd, who replaced Rabeni in the starting line-up at the 11th hour last week, continues on the right-wing, having made his first appearance for Tigers since early September, after battling with a knee injury.

"We probably could've pushed Seru into playing this weekend, like we almost did last Sunday, but that may have aggravated his return," added Wells. "The guys that were involved last week all did well, and have all come through this week, and it would be putting extra and unnecessary pressure on Seru were we to rush him back."

For once, Wells has been able to name a regular-sized bench for Sunday, with him saying ahead of the mouth-watering clash - billed by the media as the 'Battle of England, Part Two' after last week's frenzied clash in High Wycombe: "Last Sunday's match was an incredibly physical game of test-match intensity or perhaps even better. If you had to play like that every week, you'd only have a 10-week season and we've had to be very sensible about how we conducted ourselves during the week."

On the expected backlash from the defending Heineken Cup and Zurich Premiership champions after suffering a defeat on their own turf, Wells added: "We're playing one of the best teams in Europe on Sunday and the best team in Europe can win anywhere - we've done it before and Wasps did it last season. And I can tell you; you don't get to that level without having the ability, both mentally and physically, to take on these challenges."

Leicester Tigers team to face London Wasps:

15 Geordan Murphy
14 Leon Lloyd
13 Ollie Smith
12 Daryl Gibson
11 Austin Healey
10 Andy Goode
9 Harry Ellis
1 Graham Rowntree
2 George Chuter
3 Julian White
4 Martin Johnson (captain)
5 Ben Kay
6 Lewis Moody
7 Neil Back
8 Martin Corry


16 Richard Cockerill
17 Darren Morris
18 Louis Deacon
19 Will Johnson
20 Scott Bemand
21 Alesana Tuilagi
22 Sam Vesty

London Wasps team to face Leicester Tigers
London Wasps' Director of Rugby, Warren Gatland, has named his side for this Sunday's Heineken Cup Pool 1 showdown against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, kick-off 3pm. The side remains unchanged from the one that lost last weekend.

However, the only doubt is Phil Greenings knee injury. The hooker strained his knee during last weekend's game and the decision on his availability will be made on Sunday morning. If Greening fails a late fitness test on Sunday, then Ben Gotting will start in the No.2 jersey with Jonny Barrett on the bench. Trevor Leota is also out with a knee strain.

Gatland said: "We've had a good week's training, working on our mistakes from last Sunday and I feel we're going into the game quietly confident that if we don't panic and stick to our game plan, we can win. It's strange to think that we are still in the Pool stages of this competition yet this game is like a final. We know what we have to do; it's just a case of making sure we execute it.

"Tigers are a quality side and our record at Welford Road is not good. However, our away record over the past 12 months is something that we will draw strength on. If we lose our Heineken Cup destiny is out of our hands. It's a big game and if it lives up to anything like last week's, then the fans are in for a treat."

The team is �

15 Mark Van Gisbergen
14 Josh Lewsey
13 Ayoola Erinle
12 Stuart Abbott
11 Tom Voyce
10 Alex King
9 Matt Dawson

1 Craig Dowd
2 Phil Greening
3 Will Green
4 Simon Shaw
5 Richard Birkett
6 Joe Worsley
7 Jonny O'Connor
8 Lawrence Dallaglio (Capt)

16 Ben Gotting
17 Alistair McKenzie
18 James Haskell
19 John Hart
20 Harvey Biljon
21 James Brooks
22 Rob Hoadley