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Liebenberg opens up on Leicester's goal for new season

PREMIERSHIP ROUND ONE: Leicester Tigers vice-captain Hanro Liebenberg has revealed his team’s No.1 goal for the 2021/2022 Premiership season.

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The Tigers open their campaign on Saturday with a tough encounter against Exeter Chiefs at Welford Road.

After a sixth-place finish in the 2020/2021 season, Liebenberg, who is heading into his third season with Leicester, said they want to be amongst the top teams on the table when play-off time comes around.

“We have got some quality players and hopefully we can do the job. There is so much good competition in the boys, it’s hard to pick a matchday twenty-three,” he said.

“We as a team feel there is a gap between the top teams and the rest and we want to become one of those top teams by the end of the season.”

He added: “We had a good, tough few pre-season games and there is some good depth in this squad

“The growth we are going to show from start to finish this season, I am very excited.”

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Liebenberg said his team will not be looking beyond Saturday’s match with the Chiefs.

“The only thing we can do is work hard,” said Liebenberg.

“At the end of the day, if you chase results, you will miss the small things.

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“Our focus is game by game.”

Meanwhile, Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick spoke about Saturday’s opponents: “The Chiefs have been the benchmark side in the league for more than half the past decade, appearing in every Premiership final since 2016.

“It is a squad packed with internationals and a wealth of experience who have also played together for a long time, which will be a good test for our group at this point on our journey against a team of this quality.”

Saturday’s other matches will see Northampton Saints host Gloucester, while Worcester Warriors will take on London Irish.

In the day’s late game, Sale Sharks will be up against Bath.

There is one match on Saturday with Newcastle Falcons taking on champions Harlequins.

Check out the teams and predictions for Saturday and Sunday’s matches below:

Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs
(Welford Road, Leicester – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Exeter by five points.

Teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 George Martin, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Nic Dolly, 1 Ellis Genge (captain).
Replacements: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Ollie Chessum, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Guy Porter.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Rus Tuima, 7 Don Armand, 6 Jannes Kirsten, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 4 Will Witty, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Innard, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson.

Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Greg Macdonald, Phil Watters
TMO: Andrew Jackson

Northampton Saints v Gloucester
(Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Northampton by three points.

Teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Alex Moon, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 James Fish, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Connor Tupai, 22 Ahsee Tuala, 23 Alex Coles.

Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Jonny May, 13 Tom Seabrook, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Jack Clement, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Andrew Davidson, 4 Ben Morgan, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Harry Elrington.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Kirill Gotovtsev, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Giorgi Kveseladze.

Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson, George Selwood
TMO: Stuart Terheege

Worcester Warriors v London Irish
(Sixways, Worcester – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Worcester by seven points.

Teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Noah Heward, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Willi Heinz (co-captain), 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ted Hill (co-captain), 5 Justin Clegg, 4 Kyle Hatherell, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Mark Thomas, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Graham Kitchener, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Oli Morris.

London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Kyle Rowe, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Ben Donnell, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 George Nott, 20 Seán O’Brien, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Matt Williams, 23 James Stokes.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Dean Richards
TMO: Rowan Kitt

Sale Sharks v Bath
(AJ Bell Stadium, Salford – Kick-off: 17.00; 16.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Sale by 10 points.

Teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Raffi Quirke, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Cameron Nield, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Cal Ford, 19 Rouban Birch, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Kieran Wilkinson, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Muir, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Josh Bayliss, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Miles Reid, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4, Mike Williams, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Max Clark.

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Wayne Falla
TMO: Jack Makepeace

Sunday, September 19:

Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins
(Kingston Park, Newcastle – Kick-off: 15.00; 14.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Harlequins by nine points.

Teams:

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Connor Collett, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 George Wacokecoke.

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Jack Kenningham, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Craig Trenier, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Archie White, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Luke Northmore.

Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Jamie Leahy, Paul Dix
TMO: Andrew Jackson

Sources: @LeicesterTigers & @premrugby

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