Nilsen: All eyes on the home front now for Leeds Carnegie

Foreign affairs may dominate Stade Francais' agenda, but Leeds Carnegie's in-tray is about all resolving home matters.

And with their Amlin Challenge Cup hopes having nosedived following Sunday's pool four loss in Paris to competition favourites Stade, the next few weeks is about keeping an eye on domestic league business.

* Click here to watch the latest edition of our rugby union programme The Line Out.

This Sunday's final pool home clash with Bucharest is the proverbial dead rubber, as – when push comes to shove – are the forthcoming LV Cup clashes with Gloucester and Northampton Saints, with two defeats already sustained in the competition in November.

* Click here for latest Leeds Carnegie news.

It's all about getting into pristine shape in the return to Aviva Premiership action at home to Leicester Tigers on February 13, with the next three matches representing an opportunity to further bolster confidence, something Carnegie did in spades in two cup games ahead of their first top-flight win of the season against Gloucester on New Year's Day.

Hooker Nilsen, a replacement in the 39-10 loss to Stade, said: "We weren't happy with the Stade result, although we were with some of the bits and pieces we put together.

"But we're out of the competition and now just want to build in terms of where we finished off in the Premiership and get some confidence in the next three games, so we're ready when we get back to the Premiership.

"We were very disappointed with the Bath game as we believe we should have won.

"It was only 16-13 and with the try they scored, the referee also got in the way of Rhys (Oakley) tackling off the back of the line-out, so it was really frustrating.

"I don't think anyone realised it during the game, but watching the video on the way back as (Nick) Abendanon went through, Rhys tackled the referee and falls over! I think the ref was on the floor when they scored.

"Sometimes, you don't get the rub of the green. It's hard when you are at this end of the table as it matters a lot.

"But we've got to play Newcastle twice and Sale and hopefully, we can

get a few more wins."

It was Carnegie's misfortune to run into a Stade side jam-packed with international class talent on Sunday, with the likes of French three-quarter sensation Mathieu Bastareaud headlining a star-studded line-up, which also contained the likes of England's James Haskell and

Scotland's Hugo Southwell.

Their XV had more than a whiff of Heineken Cup quality about it, and while Carnegie competed gamely, eventually class told, although the visitors didn't help themselves on occasions.

Nilsen added: "It was a full-strength side, apart from (Sergio) Parisse and a pretty good team, to be honest.

"We knew it would be strong as they are not doing too well in their domestic league and they want to win something and it's probably the best thing they can win and if they do, they get into Europe (Heineken Cup). It's a big thing for them.

"When we got there, everyone was looking forward to it, although we were pretty disappointed with the way the result turned out.

"It wasn't a true reflection of the game as we went down to 13 men at one point, and 14 for the best part of twenty minutes and that didn't help."

With England hooker Steve Thompson set to be busy on the Six Nations front in February, opportunity potentially knocks for Nilsen in some key league games.

And having learnt plenty from two of the best number two's in the business at Carnegie, the Manchester-born ace would jump at the chance of showing what he has garnered on the big stage in the coming weeks.

He said: "It's been a little bit frustrating in the past few weeks and I haven't had much game time, but I'll be giving my best in the coming weeks.

"I've learned a lot from Titts (Andy Titterrell) in the past year-and-a-half and so is Thommo (Steve Thompson). He's always willing to help and has given me tips and ideas.

"They both have different points of view and ideas and it's been quite good, especially with it comes to line-outs and set-pieces and things."

Can Leeds United repeat their first round League Cup triumph over Port Vale when they take on Newport on Tuesday night? Picture: Tony Johnson.

Leeds United v Newport County - All you need to know ahead of Tuesday’s League Cup clash