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Murphy ready for tough test

Leicester captain Geordan Murphy has predicted "an arm wrestle" when the Tigers fight to keep their Heineken Cup quarter-final hopes alive in Belfast on Friday night.

Pool Four leaders Ulster stand two points above Leicester with just two group games left, while French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne also have realistic last-eight aspirations, lying just a point behind Murphy's men in third.

If Ulster win at Ravenhill - and their previous European scalps there include Leicester, Clermont, Toulouse, Biarritz and Stade Francais - by more than seven points, the Tigers are effectively looking at elimination at the pool stage for only a fifth time in 15 European campaigns.

Although Leicester's final fixture is at home to Italian strugglers Aironi next weekend, the damage could easily have been done by then, especially as they will travel without injured England trio Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon.

"Ravenhill is a fortress for them, they have beaten pretty much every top side at home," full-back Murphy said.

"Ulster are very successful at Ravenhill, especially on a Friday night. Traditionally it's wet and windy and the wind howls through the ground, making it difficult for opposition goalkickers who don't know the ground.

"It will be no different to any final or any game as big as that; we are going to have to put in a very good performance up front, be defensively sound to stop them scoring tries and kick our goals.

"It will be an arm wrestle, and hopefully we get a bit of luck."

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill has called props Marcos Ayerza and Martin Castrogiovanni into his starting XV, while Ulster are boosted by their former Tigers fly-half Ian Humphreys and back-row forward Pedrie Wannenburg both being declared fit following injuries.


From Belfast Telegraph