Lack of Lions could aid Tigers

Geordan Murphy says Leicester's lack of Lions could be an advantage when the Tigers face Cardiff Blues in next Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final at the Millennium Stadium. [more]

Lack of Lions could aid Tigers

Geordan Murphy says Leicester’s lack of Lions could be an advantage when the Tigers face Cardiff Blues in next Sunday’s Heineken Cup semi-final at the Millennium Stadium.

Only one Leicester player was named in Ian McGeechan’s 37-man squad for the tour of South Africa and that after eight Tigers travelled to New Zealand with the Lions four years ago.

This time around, only Harry Ellis makes the trip with Britain and Ireland’s elite, while six Blues players take their place in the party.

Murphy, who himself became a Lion for the first time in 2005, hopes that his club’s lack of representation will give them an advantage over the Blues and the two other semi-finalists, Munster and Leinster, when it comes to lifting Europe’s most sought-after prize.

“Leicester will be the underdogs against Cardiff Blues in next Sunday’s Heineken Cup semi-final at the Millennium Stadium and we are comfortable with that,” Murphy wrote in his column in today’s Observer.

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“The pressure will be on all the other three semi-finalists, who between them supply almost half of the players who are going with the Lions to South Africa next month.

“Leicester provide just one, Harry Ellis, that is a reflection of the form shown by Wales and Ireland this season. 

“We have to use our lack of Lions compared to the Blues, Munster and Leinster to our advantage, just as we were motivated during the group stage by the harsh ban imposed on Martin Corry after a match against the Ospreys. 

“The fact the Blues have six players in the Lions squad is a reflection of how far they have come in the past couple of years and they are rightfully the favourites. They defeated us earlier in the season in the EDF, but a Heineken Cup semi-final is something else and it is uncharted territory for the Blues.

“With just one Lion in our squad, there will be nothing to distract us, no fears of what an injury would entail. We have everything to play for and we can’t wait.”

Now an elder statesman at Leicester and currently acting as team captain in the absence of Aaron Mauger, Murphy has admitted his surprise at the exclusion of one of the Tigers’ young guns from the latest Lions party.

England flanker Tom Croft was one of the most-talked about absentees on Tuesday afternoon but Murphy, who experienced the disappointment of missing out on a World Cup place in 2003 as a result of a broken leg when in superb form for club and country, says Croft has what it takes to come back a better player and a stronger person. 

“I feel for Tom Croft, who has been terrific for Leicester and England this season,” added Murphy.

“His omission by the Lions will have been the harder to take because most pundits had him down as a likely Test starter and when that happens you cannot help but build your hopes up.

“He is a strong character who has a positive outlook, though, and he will bounce back.”

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