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Rugby News

Cup chances to stake a claim

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Matt Smith says the shift of focus to the cup competitions will give Leicester Tigers players a chance to stake their claim for a place in the team for the rest of the season.

The European Champions Cup returns this weekend when Tigers take on Castres Olympique in a Round 5 clash at Stade Pierre-Fabre.

Tigers then finish their Pool 4 campaign at home to Racing 92 next Sunday (January 21) before continuing the defence of the Anglo-Welsh Cup with a home fixture against Cardiff Blues six days later.

Smith, who makes his 42nd Champions Cup appearance for Tigers this weekend, said: “Europe is a different focus. There are a few different faces playing this week, which will give a good chance to some guys who haven’t played for a while.

“It’s a good chance for them, with the Six Nations coming up, to put their hands up and stake a claim to play.”

Tigers and Castres have met just once before, in the Round 2 fixture at Welford Road earlier in the season when Leicester won 54-29. But Smith says it will be a totally different game this weekend on French soil.

“Any French team does not like to lose at home,” he said. “They are a very different outfit to when they play away from home.

“It’s going to be a big physical battle, as it always is away in France.”

Tickets for Tigers against Racing 92 in Round 6 are on general sale to all supporters now. Book in person at the Tigers ticket office, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or online.