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Kitchener: Munster double header is huge

So far, so good for Leicester Tigers but Graham Kitchener admits his side’s double header with Munster could prove pivotal to their European Rugby Champions Cup ambitions.

Bonus-point wins against both Stade Français and Benetton Treviso put the Tigers top of Pool 4, with Munster second after collecting maximum points from their only outing so far.

The two teams, who have each won the competition twice in the past, will meet at Thomond Park on Saturday before renewing their rivalry at Welford Road the following weekend.

And second row Kitchener believes their fast start to the competition will count for little if the next fortnight doesn’t go to plan.

“We have had a good start and you can’t ask for any more than maximum points but these back-to-back games are pretty crucial,” he said.

“Thomond Park is a very hard place to go – it’s going to be a great challenge.

“Munster always get themselves up for the big European games and going to the English probably adds a bit to it as well. We are under no illusions.”

Leicester come into the game off the back of 29-20 victory at Worcester Warriors in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

The Tigers had been 17-0 down, before a Kitchener try, against his former club, kicked off the comeback and they roared back to eventually clinch maximum points.

“It was certainly an interesting game,” said the lock. “The conditions played a big part and to be fair to Worcester they started really well, like we thought they would.

“We were in a bit of a sticky spot at 17-0 down but we got into the changing rooms at half-time and there wasn’t much panic. Even on the field, the message was ‘don’t panic’ and we knew we had a bit of set-piece dominance.

“I hadn’t actually scored a try for a little while, so it was nice to get back to doing that, and we did need a score before half-time.”

And while Kitchener’s thoughts are focussed on Leicester’s success in Europe and back home, the 26-year-old always has an eye on England.

Having been on the fringes of previous Red Rose squads the Six Nations is on his mind and he will be hoping to impress new head coach Eddie Jones.

“You always are, aren’t you? But it doesn’t really make a difference who the coach is because you always want to play as well as you can,” added Kitchener.

“I want to get in the Leicester team first and if you play well for your club, then you never know. That’s my aim.”

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