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Leicester Tigers legend Johnson on Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham


Leicester Tigers legend Martin Johnson is urging his former club to take nothing for granted against debutants Northampton Saints, with the nightmare of his final Twickenham run-out still fresh in his memory.

On paper, it would take a brave man to bet against Leicester Tigers from regaining the Premiership trophy they last held in 2010, as they head into their ninth-straight showpiece.

Standing in their way this time are fierce rivals Northampton, who are appearing in their first final having dispatched top-of-the-table Saracens 27-13 in the semi-final, inflicting a first defeat at Allianz Park on the London outfit in the process.

And it is this impressive display last time out, as well as the previous two final losses to Sarries and Harlequins, that means Johnson is adamant that Tigers can't just count on past experience later this month.

And former England captain and head coach Johnson knows only too well what he is talking about. His last game for Tigers came in the 2005 Premiership final loss to Wasps, a side they had beaten three times already that season.

"My last game was a final at Twickenham and we ended up getting heavily beaten by a team we had beaten three times that year, so anything can happen," said Johnson, who was speaking at the launch of the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle, an eight-mile ride past London's iconic landmarks that will see 50,000 people take to the capital's streets on August 3.

"When you are playing in a final, it is different from when you are going for the league. Saracens topped the league but lost a one-off game in the semis.

"But I think it is good that way because to win World Cups or Grand Slams you have to win those big one-off games.

"It is brutal at the end of a long year if you have won the league and then get beaten in one game – but that is the way it is.

"Quins last year turned up and played very well and deserved to win. You have to step up and win it and neither side will want to lose to the other in the final so it should be a cracking game.

"People often talk about the European Cup final where Northampton lost a big lead as an example of them not being used to final experiences, but I don't think that comes into it at all.

"You can look at it in two ways and say that they got to a European Cup final and not a lot of teams have even done that."

However, given the fact that Johnson racked up 166 appearances for Leicester, helping them win five Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups along the way, there are no surprises as to who he is supporting next Saturday.

"Leicester have been to Twickenham finals a lot," he said, "while Northampton have been to a lot of consecutive semi-finals," he added.

"Those two in a final at Twickenham, it's the first time that has happened in this competition so that is going to be fantastic for the area.

"I live right on the border and do run into the occasional Northampton fan. I think it will, hopefully, be a great final and I am hoping for a Leicester win."

Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle will take place on an in central London on Saturday, August 3. For more information please visit:

www.prudential ridelondon.co.uk

Leicester Tigers legend Johnson on  Aviva Premiership final  at Twickenham

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