Smith out to purge his Paris nightmare
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.”