HARRY ELLIS is ready to resume his ride on rugby’s “roller-coaster” when Leicester meet Bath in today’s Heineken Cup quarter-final.
Ellis has not always been the Tigers’ first choice scrum-half this season, yet is finishing it as England’s preferred option in the position and with a Lions tour in his sights.
A dangerous tackle on New Zealand’s Dan Carter in December left him watching six weeks of Leicester’s campaign from the sidelines.
Yet the 26-year-old has since taken advantage of an injury to Danny Care to re-establish himself with England by starting every match in the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
“I’ve had a mixed season, it’s been up and down,” said Ellis.
“I was injured and then banned. I wasn’t starting for Leicester and then I started playing for England.
“I was never down when things weren’t going my way earlier in the season — I’ve been around long enough to know that’s what happens.”
Leicester have not won the Heineken Cup since 2002 when they defeated Munster to become the only club to successfully defend the title.
“There’s a real desire to win this competition after having gone so long without doing so,” said Ellis.
“It’s a tough competition so you can’t expect to win it every year. But we have the squad to do it this time.”
Leicester and Wasps may have developed the fiercest rivalry in English club rugby but it has none of the history of the Tigers and Bath, two sides who share a mutual dislike.
“Our games against Bath are physical and ferocious,” says Ellis. “There’s a lot of history between the clubs so it should be feisty.”
Meanwhile Bath’s Butch James has been backed by his fellow players and coaching staff to shine today.
The World Cup winner was out of sorts as Bath lost 19-3 to Harlequins last weekend but head coach Steve Meehan believes today will be the perfect stage on which the South African will return to form.
Meehan said: “He’s ready for this opportunity. He can bounce back. He could go to the Walkers Stadium this weekend and kick 100%. He’s that sort of individual.”
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