Northampton Saints’ early season struggles will count for nothing this weekend in the Midlands derby according to Leicester Tiger Gonzalo Camacho, who is predicting a fierce battle.
Northampton ended a three-game winless run with their 8-3 victory at home to Exeter Chiefs on New Year's Day but have not hit the heights of last season so far this campaign.
The Tigers meanwhile have won their last 11 home games in Aviva Premiership Rugby – but did see their seven-game winning run in all tournaments halted last time out by Saracens.
But Camacho admits the formbook will go out the window this weekend at a packed Welford Road.
“The derby games are always tough – and they are two of the most important games of the seasons for the fans,” he said.
“With the rivalry and the history between these two teams you know it is going to be exciting but it will be good to be in front of a full Welford Road.
“Saints are a different animal when it comes to playing us, the local derby and the rivalry of the two teams means that we know they will be at their best.
“The next game is always the most important and after a slow start to the season they want to show what they can do.
“They have not been where they want to be in recent results and after that Saracens defeat we want to get back to where we were before that game and keep improving further.”
Each club won its respective home game when the two East Midlands rivals clashed in Aviva Premiership Rugby last season whilst Northampton have not been victorious at Welford Road in any competition since a 10-9 win in Premiership Rugby in February 2007.
And prop Ethan Waller admits his side are preparing for the biggest game of the season so far.
“It’s always pretty big when you play Leicester and especially when you’ve grown up in the area,” he said.
“With the way things went for them last weekend we know they will have had a big week and will come out firing.
“It’s a bit like us last week after losing to London Irish, we knew we had let ourselves down so had to come out strong against Exeter. It was a great win so we need to build on it now.
“Leicester obviously had a tough time of it against Saracens with the three penalty tries so they’ll have done a lot of work on the set-piece.
“We’ve been working hard on scrummaging in training because we know that will be a huge battle so we have to be ready.
“We’ve not won at Welford Road for a long time now so that is something we need to change, but it’s not something we focus on too much.”
Welford Road, 3.15pm – Live on BT Sport
Referee: Wayne Barnes (161st Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth & Peter Allan. TMO: Sean Davey.