Clermont v Leicester Tigers - Teams and Predictions
CHAMPIONS CUP, FRIDAY PREVIEW: Springbok Handre Pollard is set to make his first Champions Cup start for Leicester Tigers when they visit Stade Marcel-Michelin to face ASM Clermont Auvergne in Round three on Friday.
The game will be Richard Wigglesworth’s first Champions Cup game as Leicester Tigers head coach, with the former scrumhalf turning out as a replacement in both their wins for far.
Under the guidance of now-England boss Steve Borthwick, Leicester claimed a 23-17 victory at Ospreys in Round 1, before defeating Clermont 23-16 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road to sit third in Pool B.
Clermont’s 24-14 win over United Rugby Championship winners Stormers in Round 1 has left them in eighth in the pool and underlined their danger at home.
Since their Champions Cup Round 2 meeting, Leicester have won once in three Premiership games, while Clermont have managed the same record in the TOP 14.
“It never gets easier – it doesn’t matter if you are in the Premiership or playing in Europe,” Leicester Tigers forward Hanro Liebenberg said.
“Clermont are a team who pride themselves on being successful at home in Europe and we know they will be looking for a big performance.
“Last season was a memory we made together there, but doesn’t count for much this season. It’s a new season and new group who need to work hard next week to be better than we were today. That’s all we’ll be focused on.”
The Springbok has been named in the starting XV alongside Ben Youngs as the starting half-back combination and, in the midfield, Dan Kelly and Matt Scott are the centre-pairing.
Pollard, who has experience playing domestically at Clermont having joined Leicester from Montpellier Hérault Rugby, was cautious of the threat the home side will pose.
“It’s a tough place to go,” Pollard stated.
“They will just pass all over the pitch and the crowd is just unreal- we know their history.
“Really excited, it’s always nice going there, it’s a great experience for a player, but it’s going to be tough. They’ll be wanting to get one back on us.”
Youngs captains the side in his 74th Heineken Champions Cup appearance for Tigers, equalling Geordan Murphy as the club’s most-capped player in Europe’s top-tier.
In a new-look front-row, Charlie Clare is the hooker and James Whitcombe and Joe Heyes the starting props.
Harry Wells and Cameron Henderson are partnered in the second-row, while Chessum, Tommy Reffell and Sean Jansen make up the starting back-row.
Jansen’s selection at No.8 will be the 23-year-old’s first starting appearance in Europe for the Tigers.
@rugby365com: Leicester Tigers by five points.
Clermont: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Cheik Tiberghien, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Baptiste Jauneau, 8 Fritz Lee (captain), 7 Alexandre Fischer, 6 Judicaël Cancoriet, 5 Miles Amatosero, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Adrien Pélissié, 1 Daniel Bibi Biziwu.
Replacements: 16 Etienne Fourcade, 17 Giorgi Beria, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Edward Annandale, 20 Killian Tixeront, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Jules Plisson, 23 George Moala,
Leicester Tigers: 15 Charlie Atkinson, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Harry Simmons, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ben Youngs (captain), 8 Sean Jansen, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Ollie Chessum, 5 Cameron Henderson, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 James Whitcombe
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 James Cronin, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Olly Cracknell, 20 Emeka Ilione, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Harry Potter,
Date: Friday, January 13
Venue: Stade Marcel-Michelin, Clermont
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 GMT; 20.00 UK time)
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Cole (Ireland) & Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)