Matt Smith’s Leicester Tigers may be at the opposite end of the Aviva Premiership rugby table to Worcester Warriors, but the veteran centre insists his side will not be taking their midlands rivals lightly on Saturday.
Tigers sit third in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table after four wins from their five opening games, but even more impressive has been their attacking form of late.
Leicester have scored ten tries in their last three matches in all competitions – including a hard-fought win over old rivals Bath Rugby last time out in the league – and many believe the appointment of Aaron Mauger is starting to pay dividends at Welford Road.
But Smith – who has had his own resurgence this season with six appearances to date and a vital try in the European Cup win over Stade Francais last month – believes they face a potential banana skin in Worcester despite their heavy defeat at the hands of Saracens last weekend.
“When we’ve previously played Worcester it’s always been a close game, we’ve never run away with it,” he said.
“But it’ll be more about our game and what we are going to do this weekend, because it’s always a tough place to play at.
“Last week they were put in a tough position at Twickenham against a really good side. They have got some good players and I don’t think they will be a relegation battle come the end of the season, we’re going to have to be at the top of our game.
“The semi-final was a nice summer’s day and Bath are more accustomed to their running rugby, so it was not ideal for them on Sunday.
“But to beat a side like Bath, who are going to be in and around the top four come the end of the season, is a good sign.”
Dean Ryan’s Worcester Warriors come into the clash in entirely different form to Leicester, having won only once in their last four league encounters.
Leicester have won their last 11 contests with Worcester, but that said the Warriors have lost only one of their last 22 games at Sixways in all competitions.
And centre Ryan Mills is confident that a couple of small adjustments will see them turn last weekend’s double-header disappointment into success against the Tigers.
He said: “We’re really looking forward to playing Leicester. They are obviously a great side and always are in the top-four year after year.
“It will be another great measure for us of where we are at the moment, and hopefully we’ll have a sell-out crowd for the derby and give the fans something to cheer about after last week.
“They’ve changed the way they are playing a little bit, but like always they have a great set-piece and that is something that we have to stop if we’ve got any hope of competing.
“The main thing we’ve spoken about this week is execution as our processes last week, the things we were trying to do, we right.
“But small things in the execution let us down. Our game plan was good so that’s the main thing we are focusing on and should put us in with a good chance against Leicester.”
Referee: Wayne Barnes (158th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Andrew Pearce. TMO: Sean Davey.