Matt Toomua: Leicester Tigers centre 'lucky' to escape red on debut

Matt Toomua tackles Finn Russell
Matt Toomua (number 12) was sin-binned for this tip-tackle on Glasgow's Finn Russell

Leicester Tigers centre Matt Toomua says he was lucky not to be sent off on his debut for the club against Glasgow.

Toomua was shown a yellow card for a tip-tackle in the early stages of Friday's European Champions Cup defeat.

The officials ruled Glasgow's Finn Russell landed on his upper back rather than his head or neck, hence a yellow.

"I thought there was a chance [of being sent off]," Toomua, 26, told BBC Radio 5 live. "To be fair I was lucky he landed on his shoulder."

The Australia international added: "I was pretty embarrassed about it to be honest, and it's not something I am proud of.

"I apologised to the other team, and hopefully it won't happen again."

Toomua avoided further sanction for the incident, and is determined to make amends this weekend against French champions Racing 92.

"I will try to do what I can this weekend to rectify it," he said.

Toomua's Australia career 'is over'

Matt Toomua
Toomua featured six times for Australia at last year's World Cup

Leicester's 42-13 defeat by the Warriors was the club's record loss in Europe, and the Wallaby says their performance "let quite a few people down".

"It wasn't the start I was hoping for or we were hoping for," added Toomua.

Toomua has relocated to the East Midlands from the Brumbies in Canberra, and says the history and support at Welford Road was a big factor in making the move.

"One of the reasons I came over here was the history of club, the almost fanaticism about it," he said. "People really care about it, and with that comes responsibility."

Toomua has won 33 caps for Australia but is prepared to put his international career on hold in order to focus on life in England.

"I want to have both feet in one camp, and that is Leicester. As far as I'm concerned my Wallaby career is over for the time being," he said.

"Rugby-wise I want to grow, and I want to experience something different, and immerse myself in the English culture."

Cockerill takes responsibility for defeat

Richard Cockerill
Richard Cockerill took charge of Leicester in the summer of 2009 following a spell as acting head coach

Meanwhile, Leicester boss Richard Cockerill says he accepts the pressure and criticism that comes with being at one of the biggest clubs in the country.

The Tigers' heavy defeat by Glasgow has led to "a volatile reaction", but after almost 25 years at Welford Road as a player and coach, the former hooker is aware of what comes with the territory.

"I accept it, it was the same in 1992 when I joined as an amateur - we were expected to win," he said.

"I know when we play poorly there is going to be a more volatile reaction. But that's life, I understand that, and you have to take it.

"This is my club, because I played for it. That adds a little bit of responsibility, and a little bit of embarrassment when it doesn't go right.

"It's my fault when the team play like that. I take full responsibility."

Leicester are fourth in the Premiership, having won four of their six league matches so far this season, but after the loss in Scotstoun, Cockerill believes the Tigers "have to win" against Racing.

"We have not played well this season but we are still fourth, and have lost one game in Europe," said the 45-year old.

"It's not as if we are bottom of the league and the club has fallen to bits. It's probably the manner of the defeats that has been a slight issue, and we need to rectify that."

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