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Heineken Cup preview: Leicester prepare for crunch clash with Toulouse
A sell-out crowd awaits Leicester for their must-win Heineken Cup fixture with European giants Toulouse at Welford Road on Sunday.
Toulouse currently top Pool Two with 18 points, two clear of second-placed Leicester, who make just one change to the side that drew 15-all with Ospreys last week.
Thomas Waldrom has been given the nod to start at number eight ahead of Jordan Crane, who drops to the bench.
Toulouse recorded a comfortable 23-9 victory over Richard Cockerill's side in the first game between the sides back in October but will be aware the Tigers will be a different proposition at home in front 24,000 fans.
The Tigers will be desperate to secure a place in the last eight, having failed to make the quarter-finals of European rugby's premier tournament for two of the last three seasons.
Leicester are unbeaten in their last 21 home games in the Heineken Cup since Munster won 21-19 at Welford Road in 2006. But Leicester's only win in their last five encounters with French opponents was 23-19 over Clermont in 2011.
While the Tigers must win, a losing bonus point or two could be enough for Toulouse to sneak into the quarter-finals.
Lionel Beauxis has been named at fly-half alongside Luke McAlister, with the latter moved to 12.
Guy Novés's decision heightens the expectation that the French outfit will adopt a kick-minded approach and back their forwards to win up front.
Thierry Dusautoir returns to that pack alongside Gregory Lamboley and Louis Picamoles while hooker Christopher Tolofua is back in the side.
A further boost to the line-up is Census Johnston coming through a late fitness test, which allows him to start at prop alongside Gurthro Steenkamp. Toulouse arrive with a matchday 23 that features 22 internationals. Only prop Yohan Montes does not have an international cap to his name.
Snow is forecast for Leicester on Friday afternoon but is expected to clear on Saturday.
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.
Toulouse: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Gregory Lamboley, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Romain Millo-Chluski, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Yannick Jauzion, 23 Maxime Medard.
What they said...
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill
"We are set up for a winner-takes-all game against Toulouse at Welford Road and, in a tough pool, that is where we wanted to be. It should be a classic. We are good enough to beat anyone at home, and Toulouse have not been in the best of form.
"They are a very good side and they know how to win games, but they have not played particularly well away from home this season. We know they have enough class in their team to go anywhere and win, and we will be wary of that."
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com