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Cockerill praises strength of Tigers resolve

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Richard Cockerill says progress in the Heineken Cup is a tribute to both the "quality and the attitude" of the Leicester Tigers squad.

Tigers go into Saturday’s Pool 5 decider against Ulster at Welford Road with both teams already assured a place in the knockout stages and with a home tie in the last eight awaiting the winners.

Unbeaten Ulster lead the pool on 22 points with Tigers second on 20 after four wins in five games. Tigers are also level on points with fourth-place in the Aviva Premiership and top of their LV= Cup pool at the halfway stage in that competition.

“We’ve not been at our best and we’ve had some issues, but we keep picking up the points,” said director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

“The performance can always be better, and we will look at that and work on where we can improve because we need to step up again. But we’re in a decent place in all three competitions.

“That is a credit to the whole of the squad. We’ve had so many injuries to key players, and multiple injuries in some positions, but we’re still in the mix.

“This is a very tough European pool with Montpellier, Treviso and Ulster. They are all tough teams. We’ve won home and away against Montpellier and Treviso, and we took a very valuable point in Round 1 against Ulster with so many players missing.

“To be at this point and already in the quarter-finals and going into the last round to play for a home quarter-final is testament to the quality and the cussedness of the squad.”

Anthony Allen, Rob Hawkins and Steve Mafi returned from lengthy absences in the bonus-point win in Treviso last weekend, while Ed Slater, Graham Kitchener, Logovi’i Mulipola and Tom Youngs are all targeting a return in the Round 6 game with Ulster.

“We’re not back to a full complement but we have a few more options in the squad and more competition, and that strength in depth is important,” Cockerill said.

“Last year we had to Toulouse at home in the last game to qualify but this time both teams are chasing a win to get a home quarter-final. Ulster will be tough, we know that. It’s a huge game for both sides.

“Yet again this squad of players has got us into a massive game at home in Europe and that is what we are about.”