0 Leicester captain Ed Slater criticises artificial pitches before Saracens play-off

Leicester's captain, Ed Slater, has criticised rugby's new trend of plastic pitches and called for more research into injuries suffered while playing on them, as he prepares to lead his team in Saturday's Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final against Saracens on the artificial surface at Allianz Park

Ed SlaterSarries became the first Premiership side to lay an artificial pitch when they moved home in 2013, followed by Newcastle and, the following season, Worcester. Leicester have played at Allianz Park three times, with the average score being 32-7 to Saracens.

"I am not an advocate of plastic pitches and do not like them whatsoever for various reasons," said Slater, who suffered a knee injury that put him out of action for a month when the Tigers were last at Allianz Park in January. "I am not making an issue for the semi-final - Saracens have been brilliant all season, thoroughly deserve to be at home and we have to get on with it - but in general.

"I know there have been studies that say there are no more injuries on plastic pitches than on grass, and other crappy points in favour of them, but from my experience your ankles, knees, hips and back ache a lot more than after a game on grass. That is not a healthy sign.

"It is hard to tell if my injury at Saracens five months ago was down to the plastic pitch. Logic tells you my knee would have planted in the ground differently on grass and with more of these surfaces being laid, it is something that needs to be looked at.

"You grow up playing on grass pitches and running around on fields and your body gets used to that. Then plastic pitches come around which you have never adapted to and which put different stresses on your body. That is not great when you are playing as physical a game as rugby where the collisions are massive and the demands on your joints huge."

Leicester trained on a plastic pitch before January's match at Allianz Park, when they conceded three penalty tries following scrum collapses in a 26-6 defeat. The Tigers have not trained on an artificial surface this week.

For the original article, visit www.theguardian.com.

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