Wallabies to face Tigers

Lions' opponents Australia will take on English giants Leicester during their autumn tour of Europe. [more]

Wallabies to face Tigers

Lions’ opponents Australia will take on English giants Leicester during their autumn tour of Europe.

The Wallabies have added a mid-week fixture against the Tigers at Welford Road to a jam-packed schedule that also features a clash with Munster and five Test matches in less than a month.

The encounter with the reigning Guinness Premiership Champions will give Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans the chance to introduce new blood into the national set up as he prepares his side for the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Lions tour.

Deans saw his side record mid-week wins over Gloucester and Cardiff Blues on last year’s visit to the UK and the New Zealander will be hoping for more of the same this time around.

"We have already seen the benefit of the two mid-week tour matches that we played in England and Wales last year flow through this season, in terms of broadening the depth that we have across a number of positions," said Deans, whose side begin their Tri Nations campaign against the All Blacks a week on Saturday.

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"Players like prop Salesi Ma'afu, who played briefly at Leicester in 2007, along with full-back Kurtley Beale and flanker Matt Hodgson, were set up for their Test debuts by the experience that they gained playing in the tour matches that we had against Gloucester and the Cardiff Blues on last year's tour.

"Players are faced with unfamiliar circumstances, foreign referees and players that they have never encountered before in these tour games, which all serves to add to the difficulty associated with the contest."

The Tigers know what it takes to beat international opposition having shocked the Springboks just months after the Boks celebrated victory over the Lions.

Richard Cockerill’s men secured back-to-back English titles in May and Deans believes the East Midlands outfit will present exactly the kind of challenge that his squad need.

"Going up against Leicester – the Premiership champions – is an exciting opportunity for our players, and Australian Rugby in general," added Deans.

"Leicester presents the added carrot of being England champions, and a club steeped in tradition and history.

"Welford Road is an intimidating place to play at the best of times, which only adds to the value that we will gain out of this contest. Leicester beat South Africa last year, which serves to highlight what a tough game it is going to be.

"For the players who are fortunate enough to pull on the Qantas Wallabies jersey at Leicester, the game will be as big an occasion as a full international."

Australia’s fixtures on their autumn tour

30-10-2010 All Blacks v Qantas Wallabies, Hong Kong Stadium
06-11-2010 Wales v Qantas Wallabies, Millennium Stadium
09-11-2010 Leicester v Qantas Wallabies, Welford Road
13-11-2010 England v Qantas Wallabies, Twickenham
16-11-2010 Munster v Qantas Wallabies, Thomond Park, Limerick
20-11-2010 Italy v Qantas Wallabies
27-11-2010 France v Qantas Wallabies, Stade de France

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