George Ford says Leicester Tigers will need a “top-end” performance against a star-studded Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup Final at Twickenham.
Tigers are in a first Challenge Cup Final after reaching the semi-finals last year and face a Montpellier team who lifted the trophy in 2016.
Montpellier include forwards Fulgence Ouedraogo, Paul Willemse and Bismarck du Plessis plus scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue who all played in that 2016 win over Harlequins and they also name Rugby World Cup winners Handre Pollard and Cobus Reinach in their squad for Friday. Johan Goosen, who is named at centre, played in the Champions Cup semi-final against Tigers for Racing 92 in 2016.
Speaking to the media on the eve of the game, Tigers fly-half Ford said: “Any time you come to the knockout stages you’re going to play big games. In the semi-final Ulster were a big Champions Cup team and Montpellier are the same. Their squad is full of international players, with World Cup winners as well. We know we are up against a high-quality European team tomorrow.
“It will take a really good, top-end performance from us. You have to be good at the basics, be physical, get a lot of things right, but we are also massively excited about the game.”
The teams have met just twice before, with Tigers winning in back-to-back rounds of the European Champions Cup in December 2013.
“There are 23 who get the privilege of playing, but there’s the 41 players we've used in the tournament and the other lads and all the staff, and we represent every single one of them,” added Ford.
Tigers scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and Montpellier trio Titi Lamositele, Alex Lozowski and Guilhem Guirado are all Heineken Champions Cup past winners.
Andrew Brace of Ireland is the referee, taking charge of a second successive Challenge Cup Final after officiating in the match between Bristol Bears and RC Toulon last year.
He will be assisted by Frank Murphy and Chris Busby, with Brian MacNeice as TMO. All four stood together during Montpellier’s semi-final win at Bath earlier this month.
Beth Dickens – who won more than 50 caps for Scotland between 2002-13 – will make rugby history as the first female Citing Commissioner in a European final.
Tigers will wear the club’s traditional colours of green, white and red for the trip to Twickenham.
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