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Leicester hatch plan for Racing 92 but will not obsess over stopping Dan Carter

Published 19/04/2016

Racing 92's Dan Carter poses a big threat to Leicester
Racing 92's Dan Carter poses a big threat to Leicester

Richard Cockerill has warned Leicester would be "naive" to target World Cup winner Dan Carter as a direct route to toppling Racing 92 in Sunday's Champions Cup semi-final.

All Blacks fly-half Carter has stage-managed Paris club Racing's march towards European glory just as he did New Zealand's World Cup victory in the autumn.

Leicester will host French aristocrats Racing at Nottingham's City Ground in a bid to reach their first top-tier European final since 2009 - but rugby director Cockerill will not let his men fixate on nullifying Carter.

"We want to get on the front foot of course but let's not be too disrespectful to Dan Carter, he's played a lot of rugby at the highest level," said Cockerill.

"He's not particularly shy physically is he?

"I'm sure there's lots of teams and players around the world over the last decade that have tried to run over him, and he's managed that pretty well most of the time.

"So we've got our plan to go into the game with.

"Clearly Carter's a very important player for them, but I think it's a little bit naive to say we'll target Dan Carter and put him off his game, because there's a lot of people who've said that in the last decade or so.

"We're going to play our game, we know how we want to play and what we want to do.

"Whether we're good enough to do that against a quality team, we'll see."

Leicester will switch from the 30-24 Aviva Premiership victory over Northampton Saints to European concerns with a clean bill of health on the injury front.

Carter won 112 caps for New Zealand between 2003 and 2015, but at 34 has now opted to expand his horizons in France.

Leicester head coach Aaron Mauger and Carter shared Crusaders and All Blacks midfields for the bulk of their careers, but will now be at loggerheads this weekend.

Cockerill admitted Mauger's closeness to Carter can offer Leicester insight into how to limit the playmaker's impact on Sunday, but insisted his side can ill afford to focus purely on Racing's outside-half.

"I think Aaron understands how Dan Carter plays and what he wants from his team, both in attack and defence," said Cockerill.

"So that's obviously helpful, but in the heat of battle on Sunday afternoon that all goes out the window.

"It's about making sure we manage the game physically against a very good side. This will be a completely different level from playing Stade, for obvious reasons.

"They've got quality right throughout the team, and if you concentrate too much on Dan Carter they will hurt you somewhere else.

"We know we have to get it right on Sunday if we're going to win, but in a one-off game as close to home as we probably could have got it, we back ourselves to win.

"We've earned the right to come this close so we want to give it the best shot for obvious reasons."

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