Leicester Tigers and French visitors Castres Olympique meet for the first time in more than 20 years of European Cup rugby at Welford Road tomorrow with both sides chasing a first win in Pool 4 of the Champions Cup season.
Tigers, in the club’s 21st season of elite European rugby, opened the campaign with a bonus point in defeat away to Racing 92 last Saturday and face a French double with the visit of Castres who draw at home to Munster in Round 1.
Head coach Matt O’Connor said: “We have to improve and take our game to another level this week at home and if we can do that there is the making of a really competitive unit there.
“Castres have a big and physical squad, they’re confrontational in the collisions, they are very direct. They’re seasoned campaigners, they understand how to break down teams.
“We have to be accurate and play at a tempo that puts them under pressure. They had the better of the Munster game last weekend, but they’ll be disappointed by not getting the win at home. But every involvement is important in Europe, that is the beauty of the competition. You have to do as much as you can, as well as you can.”
Castres, French champions in 2013, have qualified for the European Cup in seven of the last eight seasons and include former Tigers favourite Steve Mafi in their line-up for Saturday.
Benjamin Kayser, Horacio Agulla and Seremaia Bai are three other Tigers who have worn Castres colours in recent years and, although the teams have 222 appearances in the European Cup between them, this is the first time they have met in a competitive fixture.
Team give a European debut to back-rower Valentino Mapapalangi and bring Gareth owen into the line-up at centre in the only two changes to the team that started against Racing.
Referee for Saturday is George Clancy of Ireland.
Kick-off is at 5.30pm and tickets are still available. Book in person at the Tigers ticket office or phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2)(open from 9.00am on matchday) or click here to book online at any time.
For a full matchday guide to what’s in store at Welford Road, click here.