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Saturday 28 May 2016

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Leicester prepare to pay public tribute to Seru Rabeni

Published 19/03/2016

Leicester Tigers will bid to claim an Aviva Premiership victory over Saracens at Welford Road on Saturday in tribute to former winger Seru Rabeni, pictured, who died this week aged 37
Leicester Tigers will bid to claim an Aviva Premiership victory over Saracens at Welford Road on Saturday in tribute to former winger Seru Rabeni, pictured, who died this week aged 37

Owen Williams will make his first start after a broken jaw and Leicester Tigers will say their public goodbyes to late winger Seru Rabeni in Sunday's Welford Road clash with Saracens.

Former Fiji wing Rabeni passed away this week aged just 37, and the Tigers will hold a minute's applause for their former favourite before the Aviva Premiership match.

Welsh playmaker Williams will start at inside centre with England star Freddie Burns at 10 as Leicester seek a win to boost their play-off credentials.

Rabeni helped Leicester to two league titles in his time in the East Midlands, and has been remembered fondly by backs coach Geordan Murphy.

"Seru was an unbelievable player and an even better person," Murphy told the Leicester Mercury.

"The boys have been telling stories about him all week and they are ones that bring a smile to your face.

"He had fast feet, a fantastic step and he was massive. He also played with subtlety, people didn't realise how quick he was in relation to his size.

"I cannot say enough good things about him and he will be sorely missed."

Livewire Springboks hooker Schalk Brits starts for Saracens after a three-week ban for the Leicester trip, with Kelly Brown slotting into the back row.

England star Alex Goode will start at full-back, while Marcelo Bosch has recovered from illness to partner captain Brad Barritt in midfield.

Wasps host Sale with boss Dai Young sounding a warning about his in-form men holding onto their top-four berth with a testing schedule ahead.

Simon McIntyre makes his 100th club appearance, while Sam Jones captains the side with George Smith injured and Nathan Hughes slotting into the back row.

Wasps boss Young said: "With the league as tight as it is currently, with the gap between third and eighth so narrow, one win or loss can completely change how the table looks."

England fly-half Danny Cipriani starts for Sale, bidding to inflict defeat on Wasps, his former club that he will rejoin in the summer.

London Irish will be desperate to boost their floundering Premiership survival fight as they host Gloucester, following last weekend's defeat to Saracens in the United States.

Irish helped the Premiership break new ground by featuring in the league's first game staged overseas, but were unable to set their season back on a firmer footing.

Now boss Tom Coventry hopes his men can sneak a victory over David Humphreys' Gloucester, to create a mood on the field to match the party atmosphere of their St Patrick's Day celebration.

"We played well against Saracens but we let them get away at the end of the game," said Coventry.

"If we continue to grow and come up with a collegial approach to the game, then I'm sure we'll be okay."

Kiwi full-back Tom Marshall will make his long-awaited Gloucester debut at the Madejski Stadium, finally over knee surgery despite joining the Cherry and Whites last summer from Super Rugby outfit the Chiefs.

Callum Braley starts at number nine ahead of injured Willi Heinz, with England Under-18 scrum-half Harry Randall taking a seat on the bench.

Exeter will look to cement second place still further when hosting Northampton at Sandy Park.

Ian Whitten partners Henry Slade in the centres, with James Short restored on the left wing, while Wallabies flyer Lachie Turner could make his Exeter debut from the bench.

Ahsee Tuala starts on the wing for Saints, with JJ Hanrahan leading the backline at fly-half.

Alex Waller starts at loosehead ahead of brother Ethan, while Jon Fisher moves across the back row to number eight.

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