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Ayerza looks to emotional testimonial clash

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Marcos Ayerza admits he does not know how he will feel when his Argentina line up against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on September 5.

The match – featuring both Ayerza’s club and country – will be played in the build up to the 2015 World Cup and is part of the celebrations for the prop’s testimonial year.
 
Ayerza is currently facing between four and six weeks on the sidelines after suffering a grade-two hamstring strain, but Tigers boss Richard Cockerill is hopeful he will be back for the final game of the season.
 
The 32-year-old has played for the Tigers since joining in 2006, making 144 Aviva Premiership Rugby appearances, and he acknowledges the match will be a poignant moment for him.
 
“We (Argentina) are a very young team,” said Ayerza. “To play a warm-up game at Welford Road will not only be a big challenge before the World Cup but a huge honour for me.
 
“It will be very emotional to play against Leicester with Argentina, I never thought I’d be able to do that – going into the away dressing room will be very strange.
 
“I remember coming to Leicester and wanting to prove myself and it all started going so well, enjoying my life and being part of the culture here.
 
“I’ve won so many cups and played in so many finals and I’m so thankful I’ve been given the opportunity.”
 
Tigers are currently sitting in fifth position in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and are fighting to earn a semi-final place come the end of the season.
 
Despite Ayerza missing the majority of the season run-in, he is confident his teammates will be able to finish in the top four but admits every game will need to be treated like a cup final.
 
“The run-in will be huge, we have three big games and it’s still all to play for,” he added.
 
“Against Saracens we were confident of winning but we didn’t perform the way we should. But we’re looking forward to the next challenges.
 
“I picked up an injury on the weekend so I’m hoping that won’t keep me away for long but we have big confidence in our scrum and we know when it’s performing well that everything goes positively for us.
 
“To be fair it’s been a tough year, full of injuries, but we’ve always had confidence in the team that we could get through it.
 
“London Welsh will be a tough battle and then having Wasps away in Coventry will be a big game, they’re playing really well and have been around the top four all year playing expansive rugby.
 
“And then against Northampton Saints, that game could mean everything leading to hopefully the semi-finals and final. It’s an exciting time of year.”
 
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