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Ben Youngs: Leicester need to be at Test best against star-studded Leinster

Leicester’s Ben Youngs knows only the very best will be enough to defeat Leinster (Mike Egerton/PA)
Leicester’s Ben Youngs knows only the very best will be enough to defeat Leinster (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ben Youngs insists it will take a performance of Test match proportions for Leicester to topple Leinster in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final.

The leading teams in the Gallagher Premiership and United Rugby Championship collide at Mattioli Woods Welford Road where the hosts will look to make home advantage tell against Leinster’s stronger European pedigree.

The rivals have met on four previous occasions, including the 2009 final when Leicester were edged 19-16 at Murrayfield as the Irish province claimed the first of their four continental crowns.

Stuart Lancaster’s side visit the East Midlands with a star-studded line-up full of Ireland internationals, including half-backs Jamison Gibson-Park and Johnny Sexton, and Youngs knows only the Tigers’ best will be enough.

“We acknowledge what’s coming and recognise the effort it’s going to take, but it also allows us to be really excited about this week,” England’s most capped player said.

“It’s going to have that Test match feel to it, that’s what it’s going to take. I think anything short of that build-up is not going to be enough.

“It’s weeks like this that we want to be part of as Leicester moving forward and it’s great we’re now able to start doing it.

“We’re at home, we love playing there, we’re expecting a great crowd and we’re playing against a team who have been formidable in Europe for years.

“Straight away you know you have got to have a week where you peak. We’ll have to do that to get the victory and will need to be at our absolute best.”

Leicester won consecutive Champions Cup crowns in 2001 and 2002 but nothing in Europe since, while their most recent domestic success was their Premiership title of 2013.

Lean times followed but under the guidance of director of rugby Steve Borthwick, ambition has been rekindled to the extent they are the only English club left chasing silverware on two fronts.

“Leinster have a star-studded team with guys who have won Europe before and international experience coming off the back of their autumn and Six Nations,” Youngs said.

“They have a huge amount of experience and are a very settled team who know each other very, very well.

“It will be a great challenge for us and we get to see where we’re at against the best team, certainly in Europe, if not the best club team in the world.

“It’s everything we want. We’ve come on loads this season but let’s really see how far we have come – Saturday is an opportunity to do that.”