On Saturday, Leicester Tigers will have the world-champion duo of Handré Pollard and Jasper Wiese back in their lineup as they take on Harlequins at Welford Road.
Pollard’s accuracy in kicking proved to be the deciding factor for South Africa in three crucial matches at the Rugby World Cup. The quarter-final, semi-final, and final were all determined by a single point. The coach of the Tigers, Dan McKellar, will be counting on Pollard’s return as fly-half and Wiese’s performance as No 8 to have a similar impact.
Four players from the England team are returning after being given a break for their loss against Saracens last week. Freddie Steward, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, and Ollie Chessum will be starting. According to McKellar, these players have put in a lot of effort this week to catch up with the rest of the team. Their experience and skills in training and meetings have definitely boosted the squad’s morale.
Quins name the England scrum- half Danny Care on the bench with another Springbok world champion, the centre André Esterhuizen. Marcus Smith is at fly- half having returned to club duty last week in the victory over Newcastle. His Red Rose colleague Joe Marler packs down in the front row against McKellar’s side, who are ninth with one win in four.
Prominent figures will also make an appearance in Bristol, with Kyle Sinckler facing off against Sale and Max Malins starting for the Bears for the first time since his loan period in 2020-21. The versatile English player, who scored 18 tries in 19 games during his previous stint and contributed to Pat Lam’s team winning the European Challenge Cup, has now joined the team full-time after his time with Saracens.
Lam stated that it is always a challenge to defeat Sale Sharks. However, they have adequately prepared despite the short time frame and are eager to face the challenge.
Luke Cowan-Dickie, who plays as a hooker, has been added to Sale’s team for the first time since his shoulder injury. Alex Sanderson’s team hopes to continue their winning streak with four wins out of five.
On Sunday, Saracens will be traveling to Newcastle without Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, and Ben Earl, who have been given a rest. Theo Dan will be playing at hooker, while Lucio Cinti, an Argentina player, will be on the bench and may make his debut. Eduardo Bello, another Argentinian player, will make his first start at prop for the Falcons after joining from Saracens.
Exeter, who claimed the top spot after a victory against Bristol at Sandy Park last week, will travel to Franklin’s Gardens to face Northampton. The Saints will have Courtney Lawes and Alex Mitchell back on the team, but their English teammate Lewis Ludlam will be taking a break this week.
20-year-old Dafydd Jenkins will lead the Chiefs, making his first appearance since Wales’s loss to Argentina in the quarter-finals.
Rob Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby, rotates his front row again with Josh Iosefa-Scott, whose try clinched last week’s win, on the bench.
Baxter noted that the Saints are strong in their offensive strategy and this cannot be ignored. In the past few years, they have consistently demonstrated their ability to score tries in every game. This puts pressure on their opponents.