Dallaglio looks into eyes of the Tigers

Lawrence Dallaglio is confident Wasps have the character needed to destroy Leicester’s treble dream and has braced Twickenham for a epic Heineken Cup final on Sunday.

England’s fiercest domestic rivals of the professional era will collide on Sunday in a contest justifiably touted as the biggest Englaish club rugby match of all time.

The two teams met in two remarkable pool matches in 2004/5, both of which went the way of the Tigers, but Wasps got their revenge with victory in the Premiership final that year, in Martin Johnson’s final game for the Tigers.

Leicester warmed up for the European showpiece by completing the second leg of an unprecedented treble with a stunning 44-16 demolition of Gloucester in last weekend’s Guinness Premiership final.

Dallaglio insists he would have been “haunted for a long time” had Wasps ever produced a performance like Gloucester’s in a match that proved to be a bitter disappointment.

Instead, the Wasps number eight has promised Leicester they will face much stiffer resistance on Sunday as his side have the steel to rip up the form book.

“I’d like to congratulate Leicester. To go out and score 40 points against any side takes some doing and I’m not for one minute trying to undermine the value of their display,” he said.

“They were incredibly powerful, strong and hungry. You could see what it meant to them as a group and it didn’t come as a surprise to me that they won the game.

“What did surprise me was the manner of the victory in terms of the tries that were scored.

“It was bit of an anti-climax because they’re two excellent sides with Gloucester finishing just above Leicester in the Premiership.

“It was first v second but in the end Gloucester conceded over 40 points. After a performance like that, I’d be haunted for a long time.

“Only our best will be good enough to beat Leicester. But before you can win a game you have to believe you can win.

“I don’t question our belief because I look around our changing room and see some real characters. Characters who I know won’t wilt under pressure.

“We will be under pressure for periods of the game, there’s no doubt about it. It’s about how you respond to that pressure.”

Leicester have the edge over Wasps in terms of domestic honours – their five Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups trumps Wasps’ three league crowns and one European triumph.

“I admire Leicester because they have a lot of qualities that I think make a great club. Everyone builds up the rivalry but there has to be respect,” said Dallaglio.

“I’ve known many of their players for many years. I’ve gone into battle with them for England so I have a huge respect for what they do.

“Their work ethic is very similar to what goes on at Wasps. Both clubs have such enormous pedigree and that’s what makes this such a fascinating contest.

“Leicester are bang in form, are winning trophies and have a pedigree for that. We’re a team that have won the last five finals that we’ve been to at Twickenham.

“There’s no doubt we’ll put in a performance, but Leicester will as well because they’ve played magnificently.

“It’s interesting because the form book would say Leicester but when you throw a team like Wasps into the mix there are all sort of possibilities.”

Dallaglio believes the secret behind Leicester’s power game has been the influence of Craig White, the Tigers’ head of strength and conditioning who swapped Adams Park for Welford Road last April.

“The common denominator in both clubs’ success has been the fitness instructor Craig White,” he said.

“He was with us for three years and put some outstanding foundations in place.

“Everyone talked about how Wasps timed their run-in at the end of the season and how physically powerful they were. A lot of that was down to the work he did.

“The best signing

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