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Hipkiss excited by Tigers homecoming

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A place in the crowd for last Monday's Guinness A League opener against Leeds has whetted Dan Hipkiss' appetite for his first appearance at Welford Road this weekend.

Hipkiss has returned after playing in the World Cup Final with England and has been named in the No13 shirt for Saturday’s EDF Energy Cup match against Cardiff Blues (kick-off 2.30pm).

He is particularly looking forward to running out in front of Tigers’ support again after so long away from home.

“I went to the Guinness A League game on Monday night and that was great even with about 7,000 supporters in the ground,” he said.

“I love to play at Welford Road, all the guys do. It is something I am really looking forward to. Hopefully it will be a great occasion with a big crowd.”

Hipkiss lines up alongside another World Cup star, Fiji’s Seru Rabeni, in the Tigers midfield and goes head to head with the vastly experienced Welsh international duo of Gareth Thomas and Tom Shanklin.

“They are a fantastic set of centres,” Hipkiss said. “I have played against them before and I remember them being very physical and very smart.

“Shanklin is a great defender and Thomas has been a great runner at the top of the European game for a long time now. He is experienced and strong, and a player I really admire.”

Hipkiss acknowledges that the pressure is on Tigers after starting the EDF Energy Cup with defeat away to Bath last Saturday while the Blues secured a bonus-point win against Sale Sharks, but he says that is something that comes with the territory of playing for the defending champions.

“It is going to be tough, once you are champions you are there for people to try to take that title from you,” he said. “It is a short competition so the pressure is always there, but we know we have to win to progress in the competition.”

Tickets are still available for today’s game. Contact the Tigers ticket office on 08701 28 34 30, book online or call in at Welford Road.