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Taute previews Welford Road return to Europe

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Leicester Tigers will focus ‘100 per cent on ourselves’ in their return to European competition this weekend, according to centre Jaco Taute.

Following back-to-back European Challenge Cup wins over Pau and Cardiff Blues, the 28-year-old made his first start in Tigers colours away to Northampton in Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership.

But, after capping his debut appearance with a win, the South African centre’s first start was a more disappointing affair.

“I was very excited about playing in that game,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a massive game, knowing about the East Midlands derby and finally getting a start in the Premiership.

“I still feel grateful to have had the opportunity to play for Leicester Tigers, but it’s only the start for me.

“That performance wasn’t good enough, and we’re all hugely disappointed with the result.”

Jaco Taute Debut
Taute marked his Tigers debut in November's win over Pau at Welford Road.

Indeed, the task for Geordan Murphy’s men this week will be to pick themselves up from the frustrations of Derby Day defeat and prepare for the visit of Calvisano to Welford Road on Saturday (December 7, 3.00pm).

Taute continued: “We’re an honest group of lads with each other, and we know we weren’t at the races against Saints. If you play against a team that are top of the league and you’re five per cent off here and there, that quickly turns into a result you don’t want.

“The lads have been honest, we’ve reviewed parts of it, but we’ve also put [the result] behind us now.

“There’s a new game coming up on Saturday, and if you don’t move on you can easily get hung up. We’re not happy with the result – you never can be when you lose – but we know what we need to work on and improve, and that’s what we need to do on Saturday.”

The former Munster man is part of a gaggle of players competing for the No12 shirt this season, alongside fellow summer signing Noel Reid, Tigers Academy graduate Tom Hardwick and the returning-to-fitness Kyle Eastmond.

And it was Taute who got the nod last week, starting alongside Rugby World Cup finalist Manu Tuilagi. The three-time Springbok explained that the group can all offer something different to the inside centre berth.

“I think [selection] depends on the game plan you choose to play at the weekend,” he added. “As players in the modern game you all need to be able to adapt to a game plan.

“I like to get myself heavily involved in the game, make a difference in attack and defence, and while we didn’t get it spot on on Saturday, we’ll try and build up our confidence again going into the next round of Premiership games.”

Tigers have home-and-away ties with Pool 5’s Italian representatives over the next two weekends, before league clashes with Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins round out a turbulent 2019.

“We don’t want to take anything away from Calvisano, but it’ll be good for us to get back out there,” Taute concluded.

“The focus will be on ourselves, to see if we can perform at 100 per cent, and for us to be able to do that we just need to fix a few inaccuracies.

“For us, we need to be more accurate at the simple things.”

Match tickets for Saturday’s match are available from the Tigers ticket office on 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or online, using the link below.