Thursday 24 May 2018

Cockerill urges Tigers to reclaim spotlight from Foxes

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill. Photo: PA
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill. Photo: PA

Mick Cleary

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill expects his team "to make their own bit of noise in the city", as they tilt for a domestic and European double and grab some of the limelight back from their highflying footballing neighbours.

The Tigers take on Racing Metro 92 in the semi-final of the Champions Cup at the City Ground in Nottingham on Sunday looking to emulate the double European Cup-winning side of 2001 and '02; 2002 was Leicester's last European triumph and, although they have reached two finals since, they have not commanded centre stage with the same authority.

The incredible Premier League run of Leicester City has meant the local spotlight has swung on to the football club but Cockerill believes that it is within his side's grasp to create their own history.

"We are all competitive people and although we have always been very supportive of the football club it would be nice to make our own bit of noise, to do our own bit," said Cockerill, who watched City's dramatic draw against West Ham last Sunday.

"It was slightly bizarre for me to be watching football and in there cheering away in my own front room. But, yes, Leicester could have Premier League football champions and perhaps Premiership and/or European champions. That would be quite something.

"For us, it is about creating our own history. No one is hung up on the fact that it has been 14 years since we did win it.

"On our day we know we can beat anyone. Racing, with their rock-star players (including All Black fly-half Dan Carter) and their big budgets, are challenging opponents but we know we can win."

Cockerill readily admits that his team have not had the most testing of runs to get to this point - beating the fading Munster, underwhelming French champions Stade Français and Treviso in the pool stage, and the disjointed Stade Français again in the quarter-finals - yet can point to the burgeoning sense of confidence that has grown in the group over recent weeks.

Tigers have scored the most tries in the competition with 30. They have most of their star men fit, with centre Manu Tuilagi, whose recovery from 15 months on the sidelines with a groin problem has added drive and presence to Leicester's attack.

Cockerill has echoed England coach Eddie Jones' desire to see Tuilagi target Carter and run over him.

"So would I," said Cockerill. "At last I agree on something with Eddie."

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