Ben Youngs has dismissed the most humiliating Aviva Premiership experience in Leicester’s illustrious history as “irrelevant” ahead of their return to Bath for a play-off showdown.
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The Tigers will reappear at the Recreation Ground this Saturday, eight months after Youngs and company were demolished 45-0 by a Bath side whose star-studded back division ran riot.
At stake this time is a place in the Premiership final at Twickenham on May 30, a domestic showpiece Leicester have graced on nine previous occasions, but one that Bath last savoured 11 years ago.
Saints’ semi-final against Saracens will take place at 2pm next Saturday. Bath v Leicester is at 5pm on the same day.
— Tom Vickers (@WheresTommyV) May 16, 2015
“I am really excited at the prospect of going back to the Rec. It is all about getting a result there,” said Leicester skipper Youngs, following a 22-14 victory over Northampton that confirmed a third-place Premiership finish behind Saints and Bath.
“We lost 45-0 there in September, and it was not the first time we had been well-beaten there. We are the underdogs, but it is a one-off game. A game a few months ago is irrelevant.”
Successive victories over Wasps and Northampton suggest that Leicester have reached the playoffs in decent shape, and even though they now have to travel, their Premiership pedigree means that another march on Twickenham cannot be ruled out.
“People have had a go at us this season, but we came third in the table and won 15 matches to Northampton’s 16,” Youngs added.
”The pressure on this club is high, but no higher than what the players put on themselves. We are not going there to make up the numbers, and we all want to be part of another winning team. We are an experienced side that boasts players who have played in crucial matches for the Lions, country and club.”
Leicester, meanwhile, appear likely to put an emphasis on rehabilitation – rather than any severe punishment – for their disgraced England centre Manu Tuilagi.
Tigers star Tuilagi pleaded guilty to assaulting two female police officers when he appeared before magistrates in Leicester three days ago following an incident last month.
Manu Tuilagi grabbed a taxi driver by the throat, kicked his wing mirror, and then pushed two female police officers hard in the chest.
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) May 15, 2015
He pleaded guilty to one count of assault by beating, one count of criminal damage and two counts of assaulting a police officer. He was fined £5,500 and ordered to pay £705 in costs.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster responded by announcing that Tuilagi will not be considered for selection for the national elite playing squads until January 2016, meaning he will miss the autumn World Cup.
Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill has given his support to Lancaster’s stance, but also stressed the importance of club and country helping Tuilagi.
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