TOP BAR - Fixtures

Graham Kitchener aiming for strong season’s end

Graham Kitchener aiming for strong season’s end

While Leicester Tigers fell short of a first European final in seven years, second row Graham Kitchener wants the club to learn from the fixture as Aviva Premiership Rugby reaches its climax.

A Dan Carter-inspired Racing 92 battled to a 19-16 win over the Tigers at the County Ground in Nottingham with Leicester paying the price for some uncharacteristic handling errors.

Kitchener admits the intensity of the match caught Leicester out early on, but is confident they can learn from that as they sit just one win away from a semi-final place, with Worcester Warriors next on the agenda.

And having had his first taste of a European semi-final, Kitchener is desperate for more high-profile encounters.

“Getting to a European semi-final was big for me, having never reached that stage before, and hopefully there’s more to come,” he said.

“It’s difficult because we haven’t achieved what we wanted to. Against Racing they really came at us in the first 20 minutes.

“The intensity they played with, and that we allowed them to play with, was difficult to counter.”

“It’s about having the confidence that you can break those teams down. We tried to play the miracle ball too much and forced it.

“If you go six or seven phases you can break through, rather than trying to do too much.”

Leicester are back in domestic action against Worcester at Welford Road on Saturday, knowing a win will secure a play-off spot for the twelfth straight season.

A strong end to the season could also see Kitchener involved with England or the Saxons this summer as they tour Australia and South Africa respectively.

But with the likes of Ed Slater and Dom Barrow fighting for places at Leicester, Kitchener is simply focused on keeping a starting spot with the Tigers.

He added: “(The summer tours) are always in the back of your mind to give yourself the best chance.

“But I’m just trying to get in the Leicester team and hopefully finishing the season in the best possible way.

“It’s been a good season for me getting to play in games like this and now we want to finish well, hopefully qualifying for the play-offs.”

Watch England's finest at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May from only £30 for adults & £15 for children. Click here for tickets

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