Powerhouse George Chuter rules the front rowWhen Leicester stormed Thomond Park in Round 6 of the Pool Stage to beat Munster and strip them of their unbeaten European record at that venue they sent a message to everyone in Europe – we mean business.

The two-times Heineken champions were arguably the best team during a Pool Stage that saw them win five games on the bounce after a narrow loss to Munster in Round 1. Pat Howard’s Tigers are well organised and have a pack that can shred all they see should the mood take them.

However Howard will have to do without the services of Italian international front row Martin Castrogiovanni who sprained his knee in the RBS Six Nations match against Scotland.

But Stade Francais Paris coach Fabien Galthie must be feeling the world is against him after losing three key forwards for the crucial quarter-final.

Hot on the heels of the news that prop Sylvain Marconnet is going to be out for four months after breaking his leg in two places while skiing, skipper and second row David Auradou has been ruled out for three months after crushing his shoulder after slipping on some ice.

To add to Galthie’s difficulties, French international hooker Dimitri Szarzewski is facing up to a three-month break after undergoing surgery on his damaged shoulder.

And of course there is history between these two European heavyweights. Seven times they have met in this competition with Stade edging the encounters 4-3. However, Leicester won 34-30 in the 2001 final.

“Stade Francais have been to our place before and beaten us so they are not going to be afraid of coming there,” said Leon Lloyd – scorer of the match winning try in 2001.
“We have had some great battles across the years and they have played really well at Welford Road so it will be a tough challenge, but it will be a tough challenge for them as well.

“We have got a huge belief. It is a different side to the one which won back in 2001 and 2002, we are building a young side,” Lloyd added.

“Beating Munster was a massive step in the right direction in giving belief to the guys who have not won it before, the young guys and also people like Shane Jennings and Leo Cullen who came from Leinster to try and chase European glory.”