Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill insists he is relishing an early rematch with Racing Metro in the European Champions Cup after the French side denied his team a place in last year’s final.
Racing beat the Tigers 19-16 in last year’s semi-final at the City Ground in Nottingham, and the teams will meet again in the second round of Pool 1 matches in this season’s competition.
Cockerill’s men will travel to Glasgow Warriors to kick off their campaign before welcoming Racing back to the East Midlands and face Munster in the back-to-back games near Christmas.
And Leicester’s director of rugby is excited by the prospect of another huge European occasion at Welford Road this season and a rematch against Kiwi fly-half Dan Carter.
“We’ve got big games in the pool stages, we entertain Racing second game at home that’ll be a huge European day at Welford Road. That’s massively important for the club and that’s what we’re about,” Cockerill said.
“Dan Carter and his team of stellar players will arrive and working class Leicester will do their best and see where they get to. It’s great to play Racing because it’s a different flavour, world class players and it’s a real test.
“Leicester is about big days in the office, we’ve had a lot in the last 20 years and that (last year’s semi-final) was one of them.
“Against Racing it was a close game; in those big games you have to make sure all the little margins go your way and last year we weren’t quite good enough to do that.”
Leicester Tigers journey to the semi-final was their best run in the European competition in recent years after they topped a group containing Stade Francais, Munster and Benetton Treviso.
It earned them a first quarter-final at Welford Road since 2007 and Cockerill believes the importance of earning a home semi-final cannot be under-estimated.
“Getting a home quarter-final is key; it gives you the best opportunity to get to the semi-final and on the big occasion you have to get it right,” he added.
“Europe’s different; you have a different mindset you get away from the Premiership and you go to different environments you don’t normally play in.
“We’ll go to Glasgow Warriors, an artificial pitch, I’ve never played there before, and I’ve been here quite a long time, it’s new for a lot of us and that’s good.
“I think it’s great for the club, great for the players, a different mindset away from the Premiership and different expectations.”
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is the organiser of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition. Follow all the excitement of another thrilling season of European action at www.epcrugby.com