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Heineken Cup improves every year - Cockerill

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"This competition just keeps getting bigger and better," says Richard Cockerill as he prepares for the opening Heineken Cup tie of the season on Sunday.

Cockerill, who has been to five European finals with Tigers as player and coach, is anticipating another big occasion when the Ospreys arrive at Welford Road this weekend.

“I have been asked about the differences in the Heineken Cup from when we reached our first final back in 1997 and now,” Cockerill said.

“It is certainly a competition that gets better and bigger ever year. Everyone sees it as the pinnacle of the club game in the northern hemisphere.

“If you can be a consistently big hitter in Europe it shows that you have a real quality squad.”

Tigers open with a game against Ospreys in a repeat of last year’s Round One fixture, and also face French side Clermont Auvergne and Italians Viadana in this season’s pool stages.

“It’s another tough pool but we have a proud history in this competition and it is all about putting yourself up against the best of the best,” Cockerill said.

“We’ve had a lot of close games with the Ospreys in the last few years and they are a top-quality squad with a lot of international players.”

A record crowd for the Heineken Cup at Welford Road is already guaranteed but, due to the extended capacity of 24,000 tickets are still available in most areas.

Tickets are available from now up to kick-off. Phone the hotline on 0844 856 1880, book online or visit the new ticket office at Welford Road. The office is open until 5pm tonight, 9am-2pm on Saturday and from 9am on matchday for ticket sales and collections.