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Leicester star Manu Tuilagi ready for 'massive challenge' of facing Dan Carter

Published 23/04/2016

Manu Tuilagi, pictured, is well aware of the threat posed by Dan Carter
Manu Tuilagi, pictured, is well aware of the threat posed by Dan Carter

Leicester star Manu Tuilagi accepts that New Zealand World Cup winner and Racing 92 playmaker Dan Carter will be "a massive threat" in Sunday's European Champions Cup semi-final.

Carter, orchestrator of the All Blacks' World Cup triumph earlier this season, stands as arguably the biggest single barrier between Tigers and them reaching a first European final since 2009.

Nottingham's City Ground will host an eagerly awaited encounter between two of Europe's form teams, when victory for Leicester over Racing would confirm an all-English final in Lyon on May 14.

"It's a massive challenge playing against Dan Carter," Leicester and England centre Tuilagi said.

"I have played against him quite a few times now against the All Blacks, and he is the one that controls the game and the one who sorts everything out.

"We have to take that into account, and look at it as the whole team as well. But definitely, Carter will be a massive threat.

"It's a challenge to go up against Racing. We have watched them play, and they can play as you saw against Toulon in the quarter-finals.

"It is going to be a tough afternoon, but we have got to focus on ourselves and what we've been doing for the past two or three weeks. We are playing some good rugby, and we've got to believe in ourselves.

"You always believe Leicester will be up there. We've not been there for the last couple of years, but as a Leicester player who came through the academy and knows the system here, you always believe that you can be there.

"That is the difference between Leicester and maybe other teams."

For Leicester head coach Aaron Mauger, Sunday's clash sees him trying to plot his former All Blacks colleague Carter's downfall and Racing's European exit.

They played many times together in the Test match arena, helping New Zealand win four Tri-Nations titles and claim a series whitewash against the 2005 British and Irish Lions. They also won two Super Rugby crowns together with the Canterbury-based Crusaders.

"Dan is very valuable for Racing. He is proving to be the difference," Mauger said.

"They have always been a very good side, but he has given them direction. They are a physical, fast, direct side who can break a game open with their skills, but Dan is the glue in the middle that holds it all together and puts them in the right areas of the field.

"When he is on top of his game, he's a complete footballer, but we will be looking to test those skills this weekend.

"He is a fantastic player who is pretty resilient. He has always worked hard to be the best he can be, and that's why he is one of the best players the game has seen.

"It's the beauty of our game. It is a small world, and rugby allows us to go all over the world and test ourselves in different environments.

"You wouldn't have picked it (Sunday's game) if you had seen us playing together for the Crusaders, but here we are."

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