Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints: Clash of fire and brimstone
For once, Lady Luck seems to have dealt Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill a decent hand for today's visit of neighbours Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership.
That seems a strange suggestion against a backdrop of six England players being "rested" for the game by their country.
Plus the fact that Tom Croft and Logovi'I Mulipola are both missing through injury and a mixture of Italians and Tongans being away with their countries until Thursday of this week.
But Ben Youngs' release by England to get more game time under his belt is a huge bonus for Leicester.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Anthony Allen has joined him and that, coupled with Julian Salvi's return from a broken hand and long-term injury victims Geordan Murphy and Louis Deacon's continued availability gives Leicester some serious experience.
Add to that mix the likes of Marcos Ayerza, Martin Castrogiovanni, Matt Smith and Scott Hamilton and Tigers will put out a side that knows all about the pressure and high stakes involved in the league's most bitter feud.
Saints, meanwhile, will miss Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Lee Dickson, Paul Diggin, Tom Wood and Stephen Myler to a mixture of injury and unavailability. Peel away the surface of their very strong first XV and the same old accusations about Jim Mallinder's side seemingly lacking the depth of Leicester's squad come to the fore.
On paper, Leicester are deserved favourites to make it six wins on the trot in the battle for the East Midlands bragging rights.
However, there will be little paper in sight when this one kicks off. Years of fire and brimstone will come to the fore once more as a showcase of will, passion, commitment and a physicality – that is rarely matched throughout the Premiership – is played out in front of 24,000 people in the white-hot atmosphere of Welford Road.
Fights, red cards and broken arms have all been too recent to forget in this fixture and, with the winner firmly cementing themselves in the top four and the loser likely to slip to sixth or seventh in the table, there is plenty on the line.
No change there then.
"It's massive having Ben Youngs back for us," said Cockerill.
"We missed him in the first five rounds of the league because he got injured on England duty and so to be able to have him back for this game is huge.
"Having Julian Salvi back is great too and, with Geordy Murphy and Louis Deacon fit again, it gives us that spine of experience.
"Having said that, we have still had to make plenty of changes from last week which hurts continuity.
"In the league, you want to win your home games because that puts you in a good place and you certainly want to win against your local rivals.
"We will be very much up for the game, don't worry about that."
And Leicester's skipper Murphy, who returned to action in last weekend's defeat at Gloucester, is hoping that a Welford Road crowd that has been sold out for over a month lets the visitors know exactly where they are.
"It is a huge game against our local rivals and I am looking forward to getting back to Welford Road and having the crowd behind us," he said.