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Humphreys happy to return to Tigers

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Fly-half Ian Humphreys says he "cannot wait" to run out at Welford Road on Saturday for the first time since leaving Leicester Tigers in the summer of 2008.

“I’ve only been back to watch one game since I left and this will be the first time since the new stand was built,” said Humphreys who spent three seasons with Tigers before his return to Northern Ireland.

“I loved my time at Leicester but there have been a lot of changes in the time since I left. I had a look and I think 19 or 20 players have moved since then, as well as the changes in the staff.

“It will be strange to come back as an Ulster player but I can’t wait.

“When the draw is made in the Heineken Cup I always hope it will be Leicester because in this competition you might never get that chance. So when it came out I was very happy.

“That is one of the big joys of rugby, where you can meet up with some old friends. And the Heineken Cup means you have those opportunities to play outside of your usual league opponents. It’s a massive competition with so many big names.”

Humphreys enjoyed his own Heineken Cup moments in a Tigers shirt, notably as the fly-half in the historic win over Munster at Thomond Park in 2007, when Leicester went all the way to the final.

And he’s looking forward to another push in the tournament with an Ulster side that reached the last eight during 2010/11.

“We’ve made Ravenhill a really difficult place to go and in the Heineken Cup you know you have to win your home games,” says Humphreys.

“Now we’ve started to win games away from home too and we feel we’re developing all the time.

“We set ourselves a target a few years ago of competing with the big teams and then we started thinking of actually beating them and we’ve had some good results.

“Credit to the club, they’ve recruited well, they’ve brought in players who provide experience and a winning mentality. It is amazing what a few wins can do for the team’s confidence.”

Humphreys came to Tigers as a 24-year-old in 2006, but has niow passed his 29th birthday and, befitting his role as playmaker, is counted among Ulster’s senior men.

“Paddy Wallace and Simon Danielli bring the age up a bit in the backline, but I suppose I am one of the older guys now,” he jokes. “I’ve always been confident as a player but I was pretty quiet around the place. Now I speak up a bit more, which you need to do when you’re at 10.”