Aviva Premiership: Manu Tuilagi & more – three players to watch

Aviva Premiership: Sam Rogers takes a look at three players to watch in round three this weekend

Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers v Harlequins)

A massive game for two misfiring giants of the domestic game. Both the Tigers and Quins have had difficult starts to the season with five wins between them from their 10 matches. For both sides it is important, but for the hosts, it is simply a must-win even at this early stage. Tuilagi has been short of fitness after an injury caused him to miss the last three games but he is back in the starting XV and will be itching to get his side back to winning ways. Quins are strong in the midfield, and Tuilagi will be key both defensively and with ball in hand as he looks to re-establish himself as England’s premier outside centre. His strength at the gain line will be key as Freddie Burns and Ben Youngs look to unlock the Tigers weapons in the backs division.

Olly Barkley (London Welsh v Newcastle Falcons)

The battle of the Premiership’s bottom two should be a gritty affair, and while the visitors have at least won a game, London Welsh will believe this is their best chance to get a first win since their return to English rugby’s top flight. Veteran fly-half Olly Barkley will be key to his side’s chances as they look to break their duck in this season’s campaign. While Welsh haven’t struggled scoring points, they have struggled defensively shipping 40 or 50 points on numerous occasions. Newcastle by contrast have struggled getting the ball over the whitewash so Barkley will need to organise his defensive line to ensure the same frailties don’t rear their ugly head again at home. If they are harbouring any ambitions of Premiership survival, they must start picking up points and that begins at home against the Falcons.

Joe Simpson (London Wasps v Bath)

It has been an up and down week for the men in black and gold. Fresh off a demoralising defeat at the hands of Sale on Sunday, Wasps announced they would be moving to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, with matches starting there as early as December. Fans are understandably upset and the home game against Bath on Sunday will have an interesting atmosphere. The important thing for the club though right now is the win and Joe Simpson will be key to their success. Dai Young has named a very attack back line with Eliot Daly, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Andrea Masi all awarded starting berths. Simpson will have to be at his sniping best at the breakdown to give his backs the best supply of decent ball to build pressure and score points. They will be looking to get back to winning ways if they are to continue their push for a return to the play-offs, while promoting a brand

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