There will no shortage of motivation for Leicester Tigers to pull off something special on Saturday against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. They’ve had a tough season in terms of Tom Youngs and his partner and all the emotion that brings. He’s a brilliant bloke, a leader and so is his brother. The boys will 100% want to be playing for those guys but they won’t be asking for that.
Pulling on that Leicester shirt is a pretty special thing to do anyway and the fact that this is their 13th Premiership semi-final on the trot…this team have the pedigree. They are a highly motivated team who want to win trophies and it’s a club steeped in history for making semi-finals and finals.
A few months ago, I was actually talking to a couple of coaches and players at Leicester when they sort of knew that they would likely end up finishing fourth as Wasps, Exeter Chiefs and Saracens were running away with the top three positions. They were making noises that they would actually fancy going to Wasps out of the three options because physically, they think they can go there and dominate them.
On top of that, you go back to the game at the Ricoh back in January. Wasps were on the front foot in the first half and ripped Leicester to shreds. It was looking like it was going to be a walk in the park. But then in the second half, Leicester really turned the screw and tightened things up. They went through the forwards a lot and played a power game which nearly beat Wasps.
If you look at the front row battle, Wasps are down to Phil Swainston who is their third choice tighthead. Don’t get me wrong, Phil is a good player in his own right but when it comes to semi-final time, you want your first choice players out there. They’re missing Tommy Taylor through injury as well and he’s their first choice hooker, Ashley Johnson will move in there.
I just think Ellis Genge, Dan Cole and Tom Youngs in the front row for Leicester will be licking their lips and will try to get real dominance up front which could be crucial. It could be a game changer, but ultimately, I think if Wasps can get a reasonable platform up front, then their all-round attacking game will be too much for Leicester.