TOP BAR - Fixtures

Peter Betham prepares for his biggest game with Leicester Tigers

Peter Betham prepares for his biggest game with Leicester Tigers

Peter Betham admits Leicester Tigers’ clash with Racing 92 this weekend could be the biggest of his career thus far.

The Aviva Premeirship Rugby side are back in the European Champions Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2009 and welcome their French opponents to the City Ground in Nottingham.

Betham has formed a deadly centre pairing with Manu Tuilagi in recent weeks for the Tigers – who have scored more tries than any other side in the competition.

And despite having two Wallaby caps to his name, Betham admits that the Tigers – who last won Europe’s premier competition in 2002 – are ready for the challenge of taking on Dan Carter’s French powerhouses.

“This one is definitely up there in terms of the biggest games I have ever played,” he said.

“I'm very much looking forward to playing this week if I get the shot, and forming that combination with Manu again will be big for me personally and hopefully also for the team.

“I think in the centres we can change the game defensively, and if we do that it will put us in good shape in terms of getting on the front foot.

“Our job is to shore up the team and the midfield. That's what we'll do this weekend and hopefully we'll get some good turnovers.”

The game will be at the City Ground this Sunday – a short commute for the East Midlands side.

There have been eight tournament semi-finals to date between TOP 14 and Premiership clubs with the leagues level on four wins apiece. 

And Betham hopes Nottingham will not prove to be a happy hunting ground for Carter and their French opponents.  

“We're not at home quite but it feels that way a little bit – at least we'd like to think so,” he added.

“We're really looking forward to getting the numbers down there and putting on a good performance for our fans.

“There's a lot of hype over playing Dan Carter and all his individual accolades, but if you look at that team they are excellent across the board so you can't take your eyes off the ball at all.

“I've played Dan Carter the most out of all the players there, so I'll be keeping a close eye on him for sure. It's set to be a tricky one this weekend.”

Harry Thacker's individual score last Saturday was the highlight of the Tigers win at Franklin's Gardens against old rivals Northampton Saints.

And Betham, who has scored six tries for Leicester in all competitions this season, admits the young hooker has been a revelation this season.

He added: "Harry's was an absolutely awesome try. You'd love to be a back and get one like that, so for a hooker to be able to do that is pretty amazing.

"But it's nothing new to us in terms of what Thacks can do – he does it all the time in training so we're just happy to see him over that white paint.

"Those kind of scores change games. That happened at a key early moment, and piece of individual brilliance are always good for the team and spur everyone else on."
 

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