Leicester Tigers will see the return of Handré Pollard and Jasper Wiese, both world-champion Springboks, as they host Harlequins at Welford Road this Saturday. Pollard's accurate goal-kicking was instrumental for South Africa in their triumphant Rugby World Cup campaign, with three knockout matches won by a single point. Tigers' head coach, Dan McKellar, will be hoping for a similar display from the fly-half as well as a strong performance from Wiese at No 8.
The Tigers will also welcome back four England internationals who were rested for their previous defeat against Saracens: Freddie Steward, Ben Youngs, Dan Cole, and Ollie Chessum. McKellar expressed his confidence in the returning players, stating that their experience and quality during training and meetings had provided a boost to the squad.
On the other side, Harlequins have named Danny Care, an England scrum-half, on the bench, alongside Springbok world champion, André Esterhuizen. Marcus Smith will take on the fly-half position after returning to club duty last week in a victory against Newcastle. Joe Marler, Smith's England teammate, has been assigned to the front row against the Tigers, who currently sit at ninth place with only one win in four matches.
In Bristol, Kyle Sinckler will make his appearance against Sale, while Max Malins will make his first start for the Bears since his loan spell in the 2020-21 season. The versatile England back had an impressive record during his previous stint with Bristol, scoring 18 tries in 19 outings and contributing to their victory in the European Challenge Cup. Sale Sharks, who have won three out of their four matches this season, present a tough challenge for Pat Lam's team.
Saracens will travel to Newcastle on Sunday, but will be without some key players who were rested in the previous match, including Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, and Ben Earl. Their absence opens up opportunities for other players, with Theo Dan taking the hooker position and Lucio Cinti, an Argentina back, earning a spot on the bench and potentially making his debut. Newcastle Falcons will see Eduardo Bello, another Puma, making his first start as a prop after joining from Saracens.
Meanwhile, Exeter, who claimed the top spot following their victory over Bristol last week, will face Northampton at Franklin's Gardens. The Saints welcome back Courtney Lawes and Alex Mitchell, although Lewis Ludlam will be given a break. Exeter will be led by 20-year-old lock Dafydd Jenkins, who returns to action for the first time since Wales' quarter-final exit against Argentina. Exeter's director of rugby, Rob Baxter, will make changes to his front row, with Josh Iosefa-Scott, the try-scorer in their previous match, starting on the bench.
Baxter acknowledges the attacking prowess of the Saints, stating that they always pose a threat and are capable of scoring tries. He emphasizes the pressure created by Northampton's strong attacking game, making for an exciting and closely contested match.