Leicester Tigers skipper Tom Youngs says form means nothing when it comes to the East Midlands derby.
Youngs’ side host Northampton this Friday evening (7.45pm) in Round 17 of the Gallagher Premiership having won their last three league fixtures at Welford Road, while Saints lifted silverware last weekend when they beat Saracens to the Premiership Rugby Cup.
And Tigers will be looking to do the double over their nearest and dearest this weekend, after winning the reverse of this fixture – moved to Twickenham in support of former Saints centre Rob Horne – last October.
“With these kinds of games, it doesn’t matter how you’ve been playing before them,” Youngs said.
“They’re derby games and it just brings the best out of both teams. There’s always so much talk in the week, and there’s a really good buzz in training.
“The atmosphere when you play them home and away is always fantastic.”
“They’re always tight games and there’s always a little bit of drama.”Tom Youngs
The Tigers hooker is a veteran of numerous East Midlands clashes as both supporter and player, and said he expects no less fizz than the 242 clashes have provided over the last 133 years – and counting.
“This game means a lot to the fans and it means a lot to the players, and you get a great spectacle on top of that with the rugby.
“They’re always tight games and there’s always a little bit of drama.”
All that said, Youngs explained his side will need to be wary of a Northampton attack marshalled by Grand Slam winner Dan Biggar and driven by lightning scrum-half Cobus Reinach.
He continued: “They look like they’re playing a little bit more and offloading a lot more, which is a real threat to us, and we’ve been looking at that this week.
“They’re still a very good set piece team because they need the ball to be able to play the way they want to play, [so] it’s up to us to try and starve that.
“We don’t want to give them piggybacks up the field, penalties, ill-discipline, but they’ll be saying the same things and the momentum will swing here and there, and whoever can take the momentum and strike while the iron is hot will get the win.
“With the backline we’ve got, and with the boys coming back into there, we want to give them good front foot ball.
“Northampton have got a lot of threat at the breakdown, and as forwards we’ve got to be cleaning breakdowns well and presenting the ball on a plate so that our nine can get them away and give the backline the best option to play up-tempo rugby.”