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Hines ready for another Tigers test

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Scotland international lock Nathan Hines is set to clock up an unusual Heineken Cup hat-trick when Leicester Tigers run out at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Sunday.

Hines, who retired from international rugby with 77 caps after this year’s Rugby World Cup, could face Tigers for a third different club in just four seasons in Europe’s premier club competition.

After playing against Tigers with Perpignan in 2008/09 and with Leinster last year, the second-rower is now with ASM Clermont Auvergne and scored a try in their domestic league win over Castres last weekend.

Clermont are Leicester’s hosts on Sunday before the return leg at Welford Road on Saturday, December 17 and Hines says: “People say Leicester have had a rough time recently but the signs are there that they have started to sort that out and their pedigree in the Heineken Cup is understood by everyone in the competition.

“More than any other side you play against, you have to have the tools to do the job against Leicester – and that means you have to have a strong scrum and line-out because they always have powerful set-pieces.

“The Tigers are tough opponents and you have to pay special attention to those parts of their game, and your game, to stand be competitive against them.”

Looking ahead to the back-to-back matches against Tigers, Hines said: “They will be looking for a quarter-final place and to progress even further than that, but we have ambitions of our own in the Heineken Cup. We know how important the next couple of rounds are.

“In the Heineken Cup, the next two weeks decide your fate. There is a pressure there and it’s such an unforgiving competition – you can win a game but fail to get a bonus point and you are out of the Heineken Cup. That’s how tough it is now.

“Every side knows the next two weeks can secure qualification or be the end of your participation in the tournament.”

Tigers top Pool 4 after wins over Aironi in Italy and at home against Ulster, while Clermont Auvergne lost 16-11 in Belfast before beating Aironi 54-3 on home soil.

Tickets for Clermont Auvergne’s visit to Welford Road on December 17 (kick-off 1.30pm) are available now.