England hopeful Harry Ellis is relishing the prospect of his latest international scrum half battle when he goes head-to-head with French star Dimitri Yachvili in Leicester Tigers' vital Pool 1 Heineken Cup clash with Biarritz Olympique.
Having beaten the reigning champions London Wasps back-to-back in rounds three and four, the Tigers know that a revenge victory over their French rivals is a must if they are to stay on course for a quarter-final slot.
Ellis scored a memorable try in the home win over Wasps in round four and currently has three tries to his credit in the tournament this season. On top of that, he emerged with huge credit in the Tigers' two triumphs over Wasps as he overshadowed England and Lions No 9 Matt Dawson.
But Ellis would be the first to admit that it was Yachvile who shone in Biarritz 23-8 victory over the Tigers in France. The Frenchman scored 13 points as he steered his side to victory.
"I'm looking forward to playing against him because he's a good scrum-half. But, just as I did when I played against Matt Dawson, I'll be going out worrying about my own game first and foremost, not the person opposite me," said Ellis.
"From 1 to 15 the Biarritz side is packed with quality players - although I'd like to think that our line-up is even better. The great thing about the Heineken Cup is that you come up against quality players all the time.
"When we played against Wasps a couple of weeks ago the majority of their players were internationals. That's why you have to keep on raising yourself in this competition.
"The backs we'll be up against this weekend are all great players and we know they can run the ball from deep. The French have so much flair and love to move the ball.
"We'll have to raise our game for this one, just as we did against Wasps."
And it's not just Yachvile that Ellis will have to concentrate on. Lining up in the Biarritz back row, with express intentions to halt Harry at all costs, is an all-French international trio of Serge Betsen, Imanol Harinordoquy and Thomas Lievremont.
Biarritz currently lead the Pool by a point and know that if they can do the double over the Tigers they could well qualify for a home tie in the quarter-finals.
While losing in Biarritz was a painful experience for Leicester, it was also a watershed for them. Since that game in October they have lost only once, to Gloucester in the Powergen Cup, and have become many people's tip to take the Heineken Cup title for a third time.
"In a way, that defeat in Biarritz was a turning point for us. We were massively disappointed on the way home, but we knew where we went wrong," admitted Ellis.
"We took things forward from there in the way that we've been training and the team spirit has been absolutely superb ever since. We've scored some good tries since then and we've got to take some confidence from our last few games.
"As long as we get a win, be it by one or two points, we'll be happy. We've just got to beat them."
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