Battle of the forwards - Leicester Tigers' Slater on London Welsh clash
Ed Slater is predicting a "massive" forward battle against London Welsh today as he returns from duty with England Saxons.
The Welford Road encounter is Leicester Tigers' first in the Premiership since they defeated Worcester Warriors in dramatic fashion at the turn of the year.
"It is important that we kick on and pick up where we left off against Worcester," said the versatile Slater, who can play either as a lock or back-row forward and today he starts on the replacements' bench.
"London Welsh won't make it easy for us but, even in these weeks without our international players, we have still got a strong side.
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"If we can win our games this month, then we will be in a strong position."
Slater was part of the pack that forced a crucial win over Worcester at Sixways with a last-minute penalty try.
He is expecting the Tigers forwards to have to battle it out in the trenches when Welsh come calling this afternoon.
"They are a physical side with a big pack," said the 24-year-old. "They carry well and work hard for each other. They can cause plenty of danger and have already shown that they won't be pushovers, so we need to be careful how we go about things.
"They will be coming here with nothing to lose and we have to be right on the money. The forward battle will be massive for us.
"We have to have a good set-piece and be solid in the scrum. If we can get ball, recycle it well and quickly, with the attacking threat we have in the backline, we can score some points."
Slater enjoyed his stint away with the Saxons, but also relishes the competition for places among the forwards at Leicester, who still boast a power-house pack even without the likes of Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Geoff Parling and Martin Castrogiovanni, who are all away in Six Nations action.
"It is always a good experience to go away with an England set-up," said Slater. "You see how different players operate and you are putting your name in the hat for future selection. You also have a chance to test yourself against very good players."
There is no let-up, though, closer to home with the Tigers. Slater said: "It is an intense environment and you have to be on the money. There is no room for mistakes and the pressure is on, so you either thrive on that or buckle.
"There are some big players in there, too, and people like George Chuter and Louis Deacon lead us well. They are the kind of people you need when you have internationals stretching your resources."