Hines expects Leicester Tigers will want to roar

Nathan Hines – a key member of the Leinster pack when they beat Leicester Tigers in last season’s quarter-finals en route to a second Heineken Cup title – is poised for quick-fire return against the former double champions when ASM Clermont Auvergne clash with the Tigers at Stade Marcel Michelin in the final Round 3 match on Sunday afternoon.

And Hines, who announced his retirement from international rugby following Scotland’s exit from the recent World Cup in New Zealand, is warning his new team-mates that the Tigers may be hitting top form just when it really matters.

Wins at Aironi Rugby and at home against Ulster Rugby have enabled Leicester to top the group two points clear of Clermont with Ulster another two points behind in third spot.

“People say they have had a rough time in the Premiership recently but the signs are there that they have started to sort that out and their pedigree in the Heineken Cup is understood by everyone in the competition,” said the 77-times capped lock.

“And, more than any other side you play against, you have to have the tools to do the job against Leicester – and that means you have to have a strong scrum and line-out because they always have powerful set pieces.

“The Tigers are tough opponents and you have to pay special attention to those parts of their game, and your game, to stand a chance and be competitive against them.

“They will be looking for a quarter-final place and to progress even further than that but we have ambitions of our own in the Heineken Cup. We are still in the hunt but know how important the next couple of rounds are.
“Unlike the Premiership and the Top 14, you can make amends for a bad performance or bad result during the course of a season. In the Heineken Cup, the next two weeks decide your fate.

“There is a pressure there and it’s such an unforgiving competition now – you can win a game but fail to get a bonus point and you are out of the Heineken Cup. That’s how tough it is now.

“Every side knows the next two weeks can secure qualification or be the end of your participation in the tournament.”

Clermont, who have never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup, which they reached in 2000, 2002 and 2010, are hot on the heels of Toulouse at the head of the Top 14 but lost 16-11 against Ulster Rugby at Ravenhill in Round 1 before getting back on track in the Heineken Cup with a commanding home win against Aironi Rugby.

“We had 14 players coming back into the squad after the World Cup and it hasn’t been easy and all the players know we still have to improve,” said the 2009 British and Irish Lions tourist.

“Playing for Clermont is like having the best of both worlds, you are playing in France but not for a ‘French’ club because our coach Vern Cotter has got everything so organised here.

“However, we were disappointed with our performance against Ulster and played in the wrong areas but we know what potential we have and we just have to start to show it.

“We want to win the Top 14 and mount a real challenge in the Heineken Cup.

“But now every body knows we have to get a result against Leicester at home – nothing else matters and there is no point thinking about the return trip to Welford Road until we have done that.”

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