Smith out to purge his Paris night­mare

The Rugby Paper - - News - NEALE HAR­VEY

MATT Smith in­sists Le­ices­ter have a squad ca­pa­ble of lift­ing the Cham­pi­ons Cup – and will prove it dur­ing ‘Op­er­a­tion Re­venge’ at Rac­ing 92 this Satur­day.

Cen­tre Smith says last Jan­uary’s 34-3 ham­mer­ing in Paris at the hands of Dan Carter’s Rac­ing was one of the worst nights of his 16-year Tigers ca­reer.

Now in his 12th sea­son as a pro­fes­sional, Smith said: “We were ab­so­lutely pumped by Rac­ing and didn’t turn up at all. It was one of my low­est points ever so we’re look­ing for re­venge out there this week and should get a much bet­ter re­sult.

“Con­fi­dence is high af­ter we laid down a marker against Ex­eter last week and we feel we’ve got a squad that can make a big im­pact in Europe. It’s eight years since we reached a Euro­pean Cup fi­nal and I’m desperate to make it to an­other one.”

Smith, 31, added: “We’ve got good depth now and a lot of threats in our back­line. Ge­orge Ford has im­proved a lot – he’s world­class now – and Matt Toomua’s a great dis­trib­u­tor, so it makes my life eas­ier and we’re start­ing to score good tries.

“Ev­ery year we talk about a home quar­ter-fi­nal and that’s mas­sive. If you do that you’re re­ally in the mix and to do it you prob­a­bly need to win two away games and all your home matches, but I think we’re more than ca­pa­ble and we’re up for it.”

Un­sung Smith is rolling back the years in the ab­sence of Manu Tuilagi. He said: “I don’t find it in­sult­ing that peo­ple view me as Manu’s stand-in. Peo­ple have their opin­ions but I don’t pay at­ten­tion, all I care about is Le­ices­ter win­ning.

“Manu’s a good friend and it’s dis­ap­point­ing he’s had such ter­ri­ble luck with in­juries, but when I get these chances I’ll take them with both hands.”

For­mer Tigers boss Richard Cock­er­ill re­cently crit­i­cised the club’s new at­tack-minded pol­icy, but Smith added: “We’ve got a lot of at­tack­ing threats, even front row­ers are more mo­bile now, so it’s prob­a­bly the right way to go.”

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