OLLY Barkley believes London Welsh head to Leicester Tigers today off the back of the best week of training this season.

The 33-year-old, who signed a new deal with the Exiles last week, starts at fly half for the first time since the 52-12 home defeat to Sale on February 15.

Welsh have not beaten Tigers at Welford Road for 28 years and Barkley says Welsh are in good spirits after two improved performances against Wasps and Bath.

He said: “This week has been the best I have seen in training since I have been here.

“We were always going to improve.

“(Head coach) Rowland (Phillips) has brought in huge energy and enthusiasm.

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“He has a great rapport with the players, which everyone has reacted well to.”

Barkley is among six Welsh changes for the Aviva Premiership clash.

Alan Awcock replaces Will Robinson at full back, while Rhys Crane comes in for Seb Stegmann on the right wing.

James Lewis starts at inside centre in place of Tom May.

Former Tiger Ben Pienaar and Chris Hala’ufia come into the pack.

New Zealand World Cup winner Brad Thorn and Graham Kitchener return in the second row for Leicester.

International trio Michele Rizzo, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Logovi’i Mulipola start in the front row.


Leicester Tigers: Morris, Scully, Tait, Catchpole, Thompstone, Burns, B Youngs, Rizzo, Ghiraldini, Mulipola, Thorn, Kitchener, Gibson, Salvi, Pearce. Reps: T Youngs, Brugnara, Balmain, Parling, Crane, Harrison, Bell, Bai.

London Welsh: Awcock, Crane, Reynolds, J Lewis, Elder, Barkley, R Lewis, Trevett, Britton, Cooper, West, Corker, Pienaar, Waters, Hala’ufia. Reps: Morris, Aholelei, Gilding, McNally, Fonua, Thorpe, Rowley, Robinson.