Rugby - Cockerill avoids slap on wrist

Leicester will go into Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash against Bath after seeing their rugby director Richard Cockerill avoid possible disciplinary action.

Cockerill spoke out immediately after last Saturday's victory over Sale Sharks at Welford Road when asked to comment on a series of reset scrums.

But the Rugby Football Union have confirmed there will be no action taken against the former England hooker, and Leicester issued a statement on Friday clarifying the context of Cockerill's remarks.

Speaking in his post-match press conference following Leicester's 30-23 win, Cockerill said: "Sale were competitive, but when sides come to cheat and cheat and cheat... They were not engaging properly."

Leicester have now said there was no intent by Cockerill either to question the integrity of match referee Matthew Carley or Sale rugby director Steve Diamond.

In their statement, Leicester said: "In retrospect, and away from the heat of the moment immediately following a tense and important league fixture, Richard says he could have more accurately characterised his description of the incident as 'gamesmanship', and also that there was no intention to question the integrity of either the match referee or opposite number Steve Diamond, of Sale Sharks."

On the pitch, captain Toby Flood returns for the Tigers this weekend after missing two games because of injury.

Flood, though, lines up at inside centre instead of his usual fly-half position, replacing Dan Bowden, who suffered a fractured cheekbone and eye-socket during the Sale game.

Bath fly-half George Ford, meanwhile, returns to Welford Road to face his former club, but another Leicester old boy - wing Horacio Agulla - is on the Bath bench.

In tomorrow's other game, Wasps host Exeter with the sides locked together on 27 points and still harbouring hopes of challenging for play-off places.

Wasps approach the Adams Park clash after beating Newcastle last time out, but Exeter were well-beaten by Harlequins seven days ago.

"For us, Exeter will be a totally different challenge to what Newcastle posed. They are far more expansive than Newcastle," Wasps back-row forward Ashley Johnson said.

"They are far more attacking, they love attacking and keeping the ball, and that will be a big area for us to concentrate on.

"We are certainly having a look at where we are in the table now - I would be lying if I said otherwise - but the Premiership is a tough league and there are still 11 games to go."

Reflecting on his team's first half to the league campaign, Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said: "We are in the top half of the league, which is where we want to be, but now we have a very important game against Wasps which will probably play a large part in what we are going to be fighting for at the end of the season.

"I think we like the fixtures we end the season with in our last third, but it's the quality that we put together now that is going to be equally as important."