Hawkins has been out of action since his arm was broken in last season's final against Northampton.
However he starts alongside alongside Boris Stankovich and Fraser Balmain in the front-row.
Scrum-half Micky Young, who makes his first start at Welford Road, and Dan Bowden are also named in the starting XV.
London Irish welcome back a trio of international stars for the clash against the Tigers.
England duo Alex Corbisiero and Jonathan Joseph and Scotland hooker Scott Lawson are included in the line-up.
There are also places in the side for Matt Garvey, George Skivington and Alex Gray, while Tom Homer returns to action from the bench alongside new signing Finlay Barnham.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Andy Forsyth, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 George Ford, 9 Micky Young, 8 Brett Deacon (c), 7 Richard Thorpe, 6 Michael Noone, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Rob Andrew, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Joe Cain, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Andrew Symons, 23 Henry Purdy.
London Irish: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Alex Gray, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Declan Danaher (c), 5 Matt Garvey, 4 George Skivington, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Cai Griffiths, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Chris Hala'ufia, 21 Tom Homer, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Finlay Barnham.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.