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Kay wants repeat of Saints commitment

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With the Heineken Cup opener against Munster only days away, Tigers lock Ben Kay is hoping the experience of a hard-fought victory over Northampton can spur the side on to another important win. There is rarely much room for manoeuvre in clashes of Sunday's magnitude, so Kay believes the tough, physical nature of the match with Saints will stand Tigers in good stead.

"Derby matches against Northampton are always big games for the players and the fans of both clubs, even with new guys coming in from elsewhere," said Kay, who started alongside Leo Cullen in the second row. "The new guys quickly learn what that means and, speaking to (Northampton hooker) Steve Thompson about this, they have the same thing at Saints.

"I played my first game for Tigers against Northampton in 1999. It was great to be involved in the first team at such a big club but we lost that game. All the senior guys were away at the World Cup and it was a tough time. And the games have not got much easier whenever Leicester meet Northampton.

"Those games are almost always close encounters, and I know Northampton are pretty proud of their record against Tigers. Franklin's Gardens is a great stadium, with a superb pitch but it all came down to passion and commitment on the day. Although we weren't particularly happy with the actual performance, we'll be looking to carry that same degree of passion into Sunday's game with Munster."

Kay returned to Tigers in the second half of last week after spending time as part of the club's England contingent in training with the Elite Player Squad at Loughborough.

"I think I started the season pretty well against Sale, then I got injured in the Bath game and had to miss a week, came back at Quins then got injured again at Worcester. I still feel confident about my form which is probably different to this time last year, and, if I get the chance, what better place to try to test yourself than against the European champions at Welford Road."