Mauger expects bruising battle

Leicester captain Aaron Mauger rates his side’s chances of victory over the Bok XV, but stresses they will have to be physical.

The former All Blacks back will play flyhalf at Welford Road on Friday, in his second match after suffering a groin injury. Mauger emphasised fronting the Boks in the collisions would go a long way to controlling possession and the game.

‘It’s a huge occasion for the club to be facing the world champions but, if we play well enough, we’re in with a chance,’ Mauger told the Leicester Mercury. ‘They have to be matched physically, and it won’t be easy.

‘They have some good athletes and good ball-carriers. The way they are hardened and conditioned to play the game will make it difficult for us, so we have got to deny them the ball and try to control the game.’

Mauger fronted the first-choice Boks in Tests on 10 occasions from 2002 until 2007, and he has a successful 70% win ratio against them.

‘I’ve always enjoyed the physical battle against them and they have been close games,’ he said. ‘I can recall only one year when we put a few points on them [52-16 at Loftus in 2003].

‘Probably the one that I remember the most was my first game in Durban when we won [30-23] and I scored our last try. That was the match when a fan [Piet van Zyl] ran on the pitch and attacked the referee [David McHugh].’

Head coach Richard Cockerill has not yet announced his side as they also have an LV Cup match against Leeds on Sunday, which will test their depth.

‘It is going to be a huge ask for the squad over the two games so there will be a few sore bodies at the end of the weekend,’ said Mauger.