Wing Adam Thompstone says avoiding becoming a stain on Leicester Tigers proud history is enough to drive his team on to the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals on Saturday.
The ten-time champions have not finished outside of the top four since 2004, but a failure to beat first-placed Northampton Saints at Welford Road this weekend could lead to just that.
Thompstone touched down at the weekend as the Tigers saw off Wasps to claim their seventh win in eight games and go into the final round of fixtures in third place.
But with both Exeter Chiefs and Saracens firmly on their coat tails, any slip up against their local rivals could see Leicester’s season end at its earliest for more than a decade.
“It wouldn’t be a disaster if we didn’t make the top four, but it would not be ideal,” said Thompstone. “It is certainly not what we set out to achieve.
“We pride ourselves in being a top-four team, making the semi-finals and finals. We don’t want to be the first team that hasn’t done that for 11 years and we are doing everything we can to get fourth position.”
Thompstone’s try against Wasps was his first of the season, quite the contrast to two years ago when seven scores made him Leicester’s leading poacher in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
But, with Tigers a man light for the entire second period after Seremaia Bai was shown a red card by referee Wayne Barnes, the 27-year-old’s late score was as important as any of his 2013 touchdowns.
“I’ve tried not to think about not scoring,” Thompstone added. “The most important thing is the team winning and I try to do all I can to contribute to that.
“I’ve enjoyed the season, though it has been a little up and down in terms of performance. But this weekend against Saints is what it comes down to, this is what you play the sport for, to play in big games like this. You need to try and enjoy these occasions.
“We had a good win against Wasps, particularly when you bear in mind we were a man down for so long. It has really lifted our spirits this week. Wasps have been outstanding at the Ricoh Arena and it was a real fight to stop them scoring.
“To play that long with one man down, you’ve got to work hard and it shows why you need a good squad and strength in every area of the pitch.
“It took a lot out of us, but we are not about to start making excuses about tiredness this week. We’ve played the same amount of games as everybody else.”