Youngs: It's been too long
Published 13/04/2013 | 08:01
Leicester are the most successful club in English rugby union history when it comes to winning league titles - but hooker Tom Youngs believes it is "too long" since they were crowned champions.
Tigers last lifted Premiership silverware in 2010, the ninth time they had taken top domestic honours since English league rugby began 22 years previously. They have reached the last eight Premiership finals at Twickenham, but lost the last two to Saracens and Harlequins respectively.
Victory over Wasps would keep Leicester on course for a home play-off tie next month, with the title now their sole focus following last weekend's Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat against Toulon. "We all know as Leicester players that it has been too long since we won our league, and we are desperate to put it right, starting with three huge games before the play-offs," Youngs said.
"Once you are in the position to get a home semi-final then you have to do all that you can to try and make it. It can be a big boost for a team. Having said that, whoever finishes third or fourth will still feel they can go to another team and steal a result. But that is our first target, and then we want the title.
"It's been too long, and while we are of course taking it one game at a time, back at Twickenham is where we want to be. The Toulon result was very disappointing for us as a team. It's tough to take because we felt like we played well, but we have got to just move on as a squad now and the Premiership is our whole focus."
Prop Marcos Ayerza, who suffered a broken collarbone during the Toulon game, is replaced by Logovi'i Mulipola on Sunday as Tigers' solitary change. Fly-half Toby Flood will captain Leicester for the first time at Welford Road.
Wasps boss David Young, though, rings the changes, with Joe Launchbury and Andrea Masi both rested and injuries sidelining the likes of hooker Rhys Thomas, prop Tim Payne and lock Marco Wentzel.
"We've had an incredibly tough run of games in recent weeks and because of that we have a squad that are quite battered and have a number of guys who are not quite right for this weekend," Young said. "We know how tough it is to go to Welford Road and get a result, but this is the first of three very important games for us in the chase for a top-six finish."
Elsewhere on Sunday, relegation favourites London Welsh field the same pack that took on Bath a fortnight ago against Kassam Stadium visitors Northampton, but an injury to Gonzalo Tiesi has forced a reshuffle behind the scrum, with Tom Arscott coming in at full-back and Seb Jewell moving to inside centre.
And flanker Jacques Burger will make his first start for Premiership leaders Saracens since December 2011 after recovering from injury when Worcester arrive at Allianz Park, but Owen Farrell, Schalk Brits and Steve Borthwick are rested.