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Three changes to Tigers side for Heineken Cup Clash

29 January 2004

Tigers director of rugby Dean Richards has made three changes, one positional, to his side as they prepare to host Stade Francais in Friday's Heineken Cup crunch tie (kick-off 7.45pm).
The groin injury picked up by Sam Vesty midway through last Saturday's win at Gwent Dragons sees Steve Booth switch from right wing to the No.15 shirt.
Fit-again Ollie Smith, in the week that he was named in the England training squad, fills the vacated wing slot after recovering from the concussion picked up against Ulster in Belfast three weeks ago.
Another player to return from injury is England lock Ben Kay, who takes the place of Louis Deacon after missing the 26-20 victory in Newport with a knee injury.
A number of players have shaken off knocks to resume their place in the side, including the Tuilagi brothers, Henry and Freddie, who have not trained during the week in a bid to make kick-off.
Richards also stated that there is an outside chance utility back Austin Healey could be fit in time for the match, after leaving the field two weeks ago against Ulster with a leg injury.
The director of rugby said going into the game that Tigers should not take their �favourites' tag too seriously, despite their recent turnaround in form.
"People are making us favourites because of our last two wins, but they must remember that Stade Francais have a star-studded side and, in Nick Mallett, one of the best coaches in world rugby," he said.
"They contributed a large number of players to the world cup, and that is a measure of how good they are. It should be a great game, and they are at virtually full strength."
While various permutations come into play in deciding seedings in the last eight of the Heineken Cup, the simple fact is that the winner of Friday's game goes through to the quarter finals and the loser does not.
With this in mind, Richards insisted: "It's the biggest game of the season and is very much like a cup final for us. We have to win it."
Richards also heaped praise on the midfield duo of Glenn Gelderbloom and Leon Lloyd, who have played so well after coming in to cover for injury victims Ollie Smith and Daryl Gibson in the last two matches.
"I've been delighted with the contribution of Glenn and Leon over the last few weeks," he said.
"I've always said that Glenn is one of the most underestimated players in our squad, and he's been a great servant in never letting the side down.
"Leon has just got better and better. He's working hard and is now in the best form he has been in for the last three or four years."
Leicester Tigers team to face Stade Francais:
15 Steve Booth
14 Ollie Smith
13 Glenn Gelderbloom
12 Leon Lloyd
11 Freddie Tuilagi
10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen
9 Harry Ellis
1 Graham Rowntree
2 Dorian West
3 Darren Morris
4 Martin Johnson
5 Ben Kay
6 Will Johnson
7 Neil Back (captain)
8 Henry Tuilagi
Jim Richards
Ricky Nebbett
Louis Deacon
Martin Corry
Will Skinner
Ramiro Pez
Luke Myring
Not considered due to injury:
Adam Balding (stomach muscle tear)
Neil Baxter (hamstring)
James Buckland (broken leg)
Peter Cook (back)
Daryl Gibson (hamstring)
Austin Healey (leg)
John Holtby (back)
Lewis Moody (foot, stress fracture)
Geordan Murphy (broken leg)
Sam Vesty (groin)
Julian White (knee cartilage)
Ross Broadfoot (shoulder)
Not registered for Europe:
Andrew Powell
Andy Goode
Dan Hipkiss