Fly-half Freddie Burns believes Leicester Tigers have no option but to cash in on home advantage if the Aviva Premiership Rugby side are to make the latter stages of the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Tigers succumbed 42-13 to Glasgow Warriors in their European opener at Scotstoun, missing out on potentially-valuable bonus points as they bid for a fourth knockout berth in five seasons.
But Burns, a replacement during the Tigers’ trip north of the border, knows the importance of making the most of a vociferous Welford Road crowd, bidding to get back to winning ways without hesitation.
And the 26-year-old is backing the home support to get right behind his side when they take to the field against Racing 92 on Sunday.
“We’re back at home so there’s a great chance for the crowd to be behind us in a massive game. We’re right as a squad, we’ll be fighting in both the Aviva Premiership and in Europe and there is a belief that we can do something special this year,” he said.
“We’ve had an up and down season, but it’s these games at home which can really kick-start the season for us, getting everyone believing in us and hopefully we can show that to the crowd.
“Teams are going to have to win their home games and do what they can when they go away – unfortunately there wasn’t that opportunity to pick up any points away at Glasgow, and that means a win this weekend is all the more important.
“Every team in the pool is more than capable of taking points off each other home and away, but two defeats early on would make it very difficult to progress and qualify. We have to make sure we put ourselves back in the mix.”
But with Racing 92 coming to town, the Tigers won’t have many tougher tests.
While they have struggled on the road so far this season, failing to pick up a point on their travels to date, the French side took the Top 14 title last year, also reaching the Champions Cup final before missing out to Saracens in Lyon.
But rather than be perturbed by their recent history, which includes Racing getting the better of the Tigers in last season’s semi-final at the City Ground, Burns believes it’s the perfect opportunity for Leicester to show what they are made of.
Two intercept tries cost them dearly last time out at Scotstoun, with the fly-half admitting his side were far from their best, wrongs he is determined to right against one of Europe’s best teams.
“Racing are a world-class team, we can’t afford to have errors against them. They’ve got some generals in their side – Dan Carter being one of them – he’s probably one of the best in the world, but we have players like that too,” he added.
“They have a big, physical pack and they’re going to need dealing with – it’s about being physical too and having that self-belief at home, and if we get that right a team of players is going to perform better than a group of individuals.
“That’s not to say Racing are individuals, but they may need to rely on a bit of brilliance, but we’re confident that a team performance, doing all the right things can get us that result.”