Dallaglio ready for ‘Test match’ atmosphere

Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio believes Saturday's Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final against Leicester will have all the intensity of a fully-fledged Test match. [more]

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Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio believes Saturday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final against Leicester will have all the intensity of a fully-fledged Test match.

The competition organisers could hardly have asked for a more tantalising semi-final prospect at the Millennium Stadium than Wasps versus Leicester, and Dallaglio versus Martin Corry.

The two clubs have dominated the English game for most of the professional era and the two captains are battling it out for the same England number eight jersey.

But setting the England issue aside, this alone is the kind of match that gets Dallaglio’s juices flowing and he is determined to help Wasps overcome their fierce rivals and into a final against either Bath or Llanelli.

"It is a mouth-watering prospect. The game features the two clubs that have won the championship over the last seven years, the England captain, lots of England players, lots of international players and there is a place at Twickenham at stake. It’s another Test match, really. It’s a massive game," he said.

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"I am captain of Wasps, Martin is captain of Leicester. He is a great player, they are a great club, a club we respect enormously and I am sure it is the same the other way round.

"We both crave one thing – and that is silverware. You can only win three trophies at the start of the season and this is a tangible chance of one of them.

"That is why this game is such a big game -you have two sides hell bent on winning things."

Sixteen of England’s Test 22 will be involved at the Millennium Stadium and if the showdown is as thunderous as Dallaglio suggests then red rose coach Andy Robinson may well head into a darkened room until the action is all over.

England head to Paris next week in need of a victory over France to keep their RBS 6 Nations championship hopes alive.

Dallaglio sympathises with Robinson’s situation.

"t’s not ideal from an England coach’s point of view. Not only do you have Wasps and Leicester but you have Bath involved as well and it is a bit of a nightmare for him,"said Dallaglio.

"But if, as a team, you wanted to play your best game of the season this is the time to do it. It will give winning team huge confidence and momentum going into business end of the season."

Motivation in the Leicester camp is drawn from last year’s Premiership Grand Final, when Wasps clinched a hat-trick of league titles with a comprehensive 39-14 victory over the Tigers.

Austin Healey, who is set to start at scrum-half for Leicester, said: ‘What happened last year is fresh in our minds and we owe them one.

"Wasps were very vulnerable last year and we should have beaten them. But we gave them an early try and that gave them the confidence to play better against us than they had done earlier in the season and we lacked energy.’

Leicester have delayed naming their starting XV, but Wasps, with all their international stars available, have reverted back to a tried and trusted line-up.

Josh Lewsey starts on the wing for the first time this season with Mark Van Gisbergen at full-back while Stuart Abbott and Fraser Waters combine in midfield.

Irish scrum-half Eoin Reddan keeps England’s Matt Dawson on the bench, while French hooker Raphael Ibanez returns to the front row. Dallaglio, Joe Worsley and Jonny O’Connor form a formidable back row.

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