Leicester Tigers 18-19

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 11 Jul 2018, 11:53 am

First topic message reminder :

Fixtures

Pre-Season

Saturday 11th August - Cardiff Blues (a)
Friday 17th August - Benetton Treviso (a)
Friday 24th August - London Irish (h)

Gallagher Premiership

SEPTEMBER
Saturday 1st 16:30 Exeter Chiefs (a)
Saturday 8th 15:00 Newcastle Falcons (h)
Sunday 16th 15:00 Wasps (a)
Sunday 23rd 15:00 Worcester Warriors (h)
Sunday 30th 15:00 Sale Sharks (h)



OCTOBER

Saturday 6th 15:00 Northampton Saints (a - Twickenham)


NOVEMBER

Friday 16th 19:45 Gloucester (a)
Sunday 25th 15:00 Saracens (h)
Friday 30th 19:45 Bristol (a)


DECEMBER
21/22/23 Harlequins (H)
28/29/30 Bath (A)


JANUARY
4/5/6 Gloucester (H)


FEBRUARY
15/16/17 Saracens (A)
22/23/24 Worcester Warriors (A)



MARCH
1/2/3 Wasps (H)
8/9/10 Sale Sharks (A)
22/23/24 Northampton Saints (H)


APRIL
5/6/7 Exeter Chiefs (H)
12/13/14 Newcastle Falcons (A)
26/27/28 Bristol (H)


MAY
3/4/5 Harlequins (A)
18 Bath (H)
24/25 Semi


JUNE
1st Final


European Champions Cup
12/13/14 October - Round 1
19/20/21 October - Round 2
7/8/9 December - Round 3
14/15/16 December - Round 4
11/12/13 January - Round 5
18/19/20 January - Round 6
29/30/31 March - 1/4 Finals
19/20/21 April - Semis
11th May - Final


Premiership Rugby Cup

Saturday October 27th 15:00 Saracens (a)
Saturday November 3rd 15:00 Worcester Warriors(h)
Friday November 19th 19:45 Sale Sharks
January 25/26/27 Northampton (a)
February 9th Semi-finals
March 16th Final




Squad and Coaching Team:

Head Coach: Matt O'Connor
Forwards Coach: Mark Bakewell
Assistant Coach: Geordan Murphy
Scrum Coach: Boris Stankovich
Senior Development coach: Brett Deacon
Team Manager: Teresa Carrington
Head of Rugby Operations: Ged Glyn


First Team Squad:
(as on Tigers website)

Props: Greg Bateman, Dan Cole, Gaston Cortes, Ellis Genge, Facundo Gigena, Owen Hills
Hookers: Jake Kerr, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jimmmy Stevens, Tom Youngs
Second Row: Mike Fitzgerald, Graham Kitchener, Will Spencer, James Voss, Harry Wells
Back Row: Dave Denton, Will Evans, Sione Kalamafoni, Valention Mapapalangi, Brendon O'Connor, Guy Thompson, Fred Tuilagi, Mike Williams

Half Backs: Joe Ford, George Ford, Sam Harrison, Matt Toomua, Ben Youngs
Outside Backs: Jonah Holmes, Jonny May, Gareth Owen, Matt Smith, Matthew Tait, Charlie Thacker, Adam Thompstone, Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veainu, George Worth


Development Squad:

Forwards: Taylor Gough, Sam Grahamslaw, Joe Heyes, Cameron Jordan, Henri Lavin, Sam Lewis, Keston Lines, Harry Mahoney, Tommy Reffell, Thom Smith
Backs: Sam Aspland-Robinson, Tom Hardwicke, Jordan Olowefela, Harry Simmons, Ben White


Last edited by LondonTiger on Wed 18 Jul 2018, 7:27 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Gallagher Cup fixtures included)

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 15 May 2019, 2:35 pm

1.Genge, Bateman, Gigena, Hills
2.Youngs, Kerr, TPN, Clare, Stevens?
3.Cole, Heyes, Cortes, Leatigaga
4.Lavanini, Wells, Lewis
5.Spencer, Green
6.Taufua, Denton, Coghlan
7.Thompson, Reffell
8.Liebenberg, Kalamafoni

9.Youngs, Harrison, White, Simmons
10.Ford, Hardwick

11.May, Olowofela
12.Reid, Eastmond
13.Tuilagi, Taute, Viljeon
14.Holmes, Thompstone
15.Veainu, Worth

Those departures, confirmed signings and expected signings give that squad.

Still expect some more signings on top of that. Back three depth in particular.

If Stevens doesn't retire then we are loaded with senior squad hookers!

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Wed 15 May 2019, 2:35 pm

Yeah I thought Fred had finally leaned down to a weight where he could do some damage and use his skillset (looked like he liked an offload).

I like what I saw of Fe'ao so it's a shame that Murphy decided against him before Christmas and he hasn't had a look in since. Perhaps all wasn't right behind the scenes there. The rest isn't really surprising, well other than Hills I have no idea why he's still here as he never plays and Grahamslaw is on his way through. Cortes is solid tighthead cover and Gigena has come on well this season so happy for them to stay.

I suspect that Stevens isn't released as he's under contract next season and recovering from concussion issues. Be poor form to cut his contract and boot him out. He may make a decision in retirement over the summer, same with Denton.

Freeing up cap for the rebuilding job though. The squad was unbalanced and has been a mismatch from several previous incumbents with the top job. Signings so far have been good so hopefully we get the rumoured ones plus another gen or two.

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 15 May 2019, 2:41 pm

Agreed on looking after Stevens as he recovers. Not suggesting he should be cast out just a lot of hookers signed up though. If he isn't expected to play during the season he can be exempt from the salary cap though I believe so doesn't hurt the squad in that regard. He played well prior to the head knock so it's a shame.

Hills is an odd one. He looked a real talent before the injuries. He could scrummage as well as get round the park. Perhaps Stanko still sees that player there and wants to give him time. He will be affordable 4th choice cover behind a strong 1st, 2nd and 3rd though. I'm certainly happy with the loosehead depth when adding in the talented Grahamslaw.

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Post by Gooseberry on Wed 15 May 2019, 3:03 pm

bluestonevedder wrote:

Any word on where Ford, Tuilagi, .... are off to?

Well this made me sit up for a second! Doh

Although both their more successful relations will also likely be bit part players next season thanks to he world of cups and other England things.


The one thing that still amazes me is how forgiving people are to the current leadership following this fiasco of a season. Yes Murphy didnt have much flexibility in rebuilding his squad, but the small things he did do like signing Varndell and Sarto seem utterly fruitless (Sarto got a premiership start and a bench spot, scored no tries, same for Varndell).
Had it not been for Mays cameos through the season Tigers likely wouldve been relegated. For all the talk of a potent attack Tigers outside backs were hopeless at crossing the try line. Add in that George Ford was the Premierships top points scorer (despite missing games for England) its clear that the vast majority of the squad didnt pull their weight. Those two account for more than half of the squads points, and more than a third of their tries, in the premiership last season.
Whilst its nice to have two players that good who can pull a side over the line through individual brilliance it really does highlight just how far below their potential others were playing.
That squad should have been better. Murphy and Ford weren't given an easy task, but things got worse as the season progressed not better.

I'm still fumin' babes.


The fire sale and new signings are only a small part of whats needed. Its a huge relief that the handful of players who did perform have stayed of course, but next season needs coaches and a culture that drives the whole squad to succeed. regardless of who turns up for first day of the season if they don't sort out the stink in the dressing room then things wont improve much.

I do think its a short term blessing for Tigers that they wont be in next years EC, as much of a humiliation as that is. Their squad depth wont be tested as badly, and their will be a clear focus for when to field their top side without burning players out.

Surely it cant be as bad again?

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Wed 15 May 2019, 3:46 pm

Agreed that the coaching setup is the next area in need of work. I think a lot of fans appreciate that Murphy took on a poisoned chalice when he took the head coaching job from a board that were in no way prepared for the situation they found themselves in.

MOC turned up two weeks late for preseason training, cut the S&C time because he allegedly didn't believe in it and seemingly put no structures into place. Murphy tried and failed to implement a complete rebuild job during the season with a makeshift backroom team.

A senior man to come in as DOR (ideally with a background of forwards coaching) is simply a must for us. My preference would be Japan head coach Jamie Joseph, allow him to bring across some of his preferred backroom team but retain Murphy and Stanko for consistency.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Wed 15 May 2019, 3:50 pm

Gooseberry wrote:
bluestonevedder wrote:

Any word on where Ford, Tuilagi, .... are off to?

Surely it cant be as bad again?

We've signed Gareth Owen and Toby Salmon, after being relegated!

You dont know what bad is pal!!!

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 15 May 2019, 3:56 pm

Wanting a world class coaching team and recruiting one are sadly different scenarios entirely. If I was an experienced international coach with lots of options (what Tigers need) then working for the Tigers board would be a long way from my first choice. I don't think anyone in rugby would trust Cohen as far as they can throw him at this stage.

Coaching changes are obviously needed though, no question there. Defence coaching and forwards coaching (particularly in the lineout) are in dire need of improvement.

I wouldn't be adverse to Geordie taking the 'director of rugby operations' role if it allowed the recruitment of a strong head coach taking on field duties without the politics surrounding the DOR job. Geordie could take care of recruitment and rebuilding the pathway from academy to senior squad then a head coach could take on the first team duties.

Milton Haig and Rowntree are working together with Georgia and are very good coaches. Jamie Joseph is a good coach as Sam suggests.

There are lots of talented young assistant coaches around such as Worsley, O'Connell and Parling.

Selling the rebuild to an experienced senior coach to lead the first team will be the problem after firing 3 coaches in quick succession.

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 15 May 2019, 3:58 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
Gooseberry wrote:
bluestonevedder wrote:

Any word on where Ford, Tuilagi, .... are off to?

Surely it cant be as bad again?

We've signed Gareth Owen and Toby Salmon, after being relegated!

You dont know what bad is pal!!!
6.Fitzgerald
7.Williams
8.O'Connor

I see your Championship signings and I give you the Tigers backrow that took on Exeter at Welford Road. Shockingly enough we shipped 52 points that day.

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Post by bluestonevedder on Wed 15 May 2019, 5:06 pm

king_carlos wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:
Gooseberry wrote:
bluestonevedder wrote:

Any word on where Ford, Tuilagi, .... are off to?

Surely it cant be as bad again?

We've signed Gareth Owen and Toby Salmon, after being relegated!

You dont know what bad is pal!!!
6.Fitzgerald
7.Williams
8.O'Connor

I see your Championship signings and I give you the Tigers backrow that took on Exeter at Welford Road. Shockingly enough we shipped 52 points that day.

At least Falcons have Mark Wilson!

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 15 May 2019, 5:56 pm

The PRC side for the opening games of the seasons during the RWC will be interesting.

Almost certainly lose: Genge, Polota-Nau, Cole Lavanini, Kalamafoni, Youngs, Ford, Tuilagi, May, Veainu
Possibly: Gigena, Kerr, Cortes, Kalamafoni, Holmes

Liebenberg and Viljeon will be at the Currie Cup as well I would guess.

Not sure on the Taufua situation. He is contracted after the RWC to keep his availability open but does that mean he will play Mitre 10 if not selected? I believe Taufua is still eligible to represent Samoa as well...

It will be an interesting side to select with lots of absentees, new signings and a lot of development players re-signed who will want game time. I'd be happy with any of the development players re-signed this season as well as Costelow or Steward getting game time in the PRC.


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Post by formerly known as Sam on Wed 15 May 2019, 7:26 pm

Hmm probably something like;

1. Gigena
2. Youngs
3. Heyes
4. Spencer/Jordan
5. Green/Wells
6. Denton/Coghlan
7. Reffell
8. Thompson
9. Harrison/White/Simmonds
10. Hardwick
11. Owolofela
12. Reid
13. Taute
14. Thompstone
15. Worth

16. Clare, 17. Hills, 18. Cortes, 19. Wells/Jordan, 20. Coghlan/Lewis, 21. White/Simmonds, 22. Costelow, 23. SAP

Can't see Cortes or Gigena getting called up. There's some good development players coming up that could come in as well as maybe Leitagaga if he's not required by Samoa.

It will be interesting to see if we treat this as a purely development competition, extended preseason or competitive games to get us match sharp.

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 15 May 2019, 7:46 pm

Kerr isn't in the Scotland training squad which has 4 hookers in it but injuries do happen so he's an outside bet.

Cortes being injured may have ruled him out but Gigena should be in the shop window. Botta will probably start on the loosehead but Herrera has injury issues as a reserve. As usual Argentina have depth at prop though.

I actually think the PRC coming at the start of the season will make it more interesting as teams will be wanting to bed new signings in. It should see some strong sides but RWC absentees will keep the youngsters playing.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Wed 15 May 2019, 8:57 pm

To have Kerr available for preseason would be helpful. For me he should be the first choice going into next season. Our pack needs mobility and physicality and he offers that as well as good set piece work. We have TPN if we need some extra power and Youngs if we want extra leadership and experience.

In a front row you get a bit of everything with Genge, Kerr and Cole and at scrum time that combination has worked well and should go even better next season with Lavanini pushing behind them.

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Post by king_carlos on Wed 15 May 2019, 9:12 pm

Agree on Kerr. I really rate him. He does his set-piece well and has a high work rate. If a young hooker has those two things then they have plenty of room to improve everything else. If they don't have a strong set-piece and work rate it's difficult to give them the game time to improve their all round game.

1.Genge 2.Kerr 3.Cole 4.Lavanini 5.Spencer 6.Taufua 7.Thompson 8.Liebenberg

I'd actually be excited about seeing that pack going into big games.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Thu 16 May 2019, 9:24 am

Yeah that pack next season Very Happy .

With a bench of;

16. Youngs/TPN, 17. Bateman, 18. Leitagaga, 19. Green/Wells, 20. Denton

Just need a new coaching structure to make them mean and the most of the talent that's there. No reason that pack shouldn't take us back up the table.

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 16 May 2019, 9:48 am

Any one confident we can actually have coaching that gets the best out of these guys?

And for all the brickbats thrown at MOC, not sure even he picked a back row as unbalanced as that against Exeter last month.

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Post by bluestonevedder on Thu 16 May 2019, 10:25 am

king_carlos wrote:Agree on Kerr. I really rate him. He does his set-piece well and has a high work rate. If a young hooker has those two things then they have plenty of room to improve everything else. If they don't have a strong set-piece and work rate it's difficult to give them the game time to improve their all round game.

1.Genge 2.Kerr 3.Cole 4.Lavanini 5.Spencer 6.Taufua 7.Thompson 8.Liebenberg

I'd actually be excited about seeing that pack going into big games.

Great looking pack. BT had a Crusaders game free to air last weekend and Taufua was playing. Looks a real handful with ball in hand. Low to the ground and very squat making him hard to tackle. He always seemed to break the first tackle and take 1 or 2 meters more than you'd think.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Thu 16 May 2019, 10:40 am

LondonTiger wrote:Any one confident we can actually have coaching that gets the best out of these guys?

And for all the brickbats thrown at MOC, not sure even he picked a back row as unbalanced as that against Exeter last month.

Well hopefully we will have by the start of preseason. Currently I have serious reservations about next season if there's no improvement to the coaching staff. Murphy clearly has a vision but not the tools or the experience to bring that vision to reality. Bakewell is ineffective as the forwards coach and Blake has added little in terms of defence.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Thu 16 May 2019, 8:21 pm

We have a few more signings to announce. I hope we're not signing more of your unwanted rabble.....

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 16 May 2019, 8:31 pm

I think I remember Taufua from U20s level playing against Wales. Really explosive player picking up off the back of a scrum, made Hamilton look like a muppet. Luckily we also had Ellis Jenkins around.

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 16 May 2019, 10:33 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:We have a few more signings to announce. I hope we're not signing more of your unwanted rabble.....

You have just tempted fate, and your reward will be Joe Ford and Fred Tuilagi. The Falcons press office will accidentally use photos of George and Manu.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 17 May 2019, 8:50 am

LondonTiger wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:We have a few more signings to announce. I hope we're not signing more of your unwanted rabble.....

You have just tempted fate, and your reward will be Joe Ford and Fred Tuilagi. The Falcons press office will accidentally use photos of George and Manu.

Fred might not be the awful signing he would have been a year ago. He's looked more mobile and leaner of late and has started to offload and move the ball rather than letting it die with him in contact.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Fri 17 May 2019, 12:52 pm

We'd take Fred i think....but nooone else please.

Gareth Owen is bad enough.

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Post by king_carlos on Tue 21 May 2019, 3:59 pm

Talk that Mike Ford has re-signed a 1 year contract as an assistant coach. Very much mixed feelings on that.

Also being widely spoken about that Ged Glynn is still at the club for next season but has been assigned to a new role. That one's been coming a mile off. His appointment as director of rugby operations with a remit that seemed vague at best was indicative of Tigers management confusion for the last few years. Whoever is involved in the coaching and recruitment it needs a clearly defined structure for next season.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Tue 21 May 2019, 4:20 pm

In a way I feel a little sorry for Glynn. He was originally the club scout and found some good foreign gems like Dupuy and Goneva. Then Dusty left and he was head scout and still did ok. Then he was tasked with transforming the academy and being head coach, well the academy is now one of the few plus points for the club but recruitment has slipped a bit but still some good signings. Then the whole senior squad thing was added to his plate as well. I just think he showed up well and so the board have just dumped more and more responsibility onto his shoulders. Moving away from senior squad responsibility seems a good move.

Ford Snr makes sense on a one year deal. He has a good reputation for coaching and we'll need a defence coach with Blake out of contract and useless. We are allegedly after a big name who might not arrive until post RWC so makes sense to keep Mike on for consistency and to keep an experienced head at Oval Park overseeing the new top man's direction.

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Post by Gooseberry on Fri 31 May 2019, 4:50 pm

Murphy's copped a 3 game ban.

Expect tigers to get off to a good start next season then. 🙃

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 31 May 2019, 9:25 pm

Gooseberry wrote:Murphy's copped a 3 game ban.

Expect tigers to get off to a good start next season then. 🙃

As the first three games are Prem Cup who cares.

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Post by Gooseberry on Fri 31 May 2019, 9:49 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:
Gooseberry wrote:Murphy's copped a 3 game ban.

Expect tigers to get off to a good start next season then. 🙃

As the first three games are Prem Cup who cares.
Based on this season its the biggest trophy theyll be competing for!

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sat 01 Jun 2019, 1:20 pm

Gooseberry wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
Gooseberry wrote:Murphy's copped a 3 game ban.

Expect tigers to get off to a good start next season then. 🙃

As the first three games are Prem Cup who cares.
Based on this season its the biggest trophy theyll be competing for!

I expect next season to be very different from this season. Better pack, actual preseason and tactics not left from MOC who still thinks running into a brick wall for 80 minutes wins you games.

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Post by king_carlos on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 3:23 pm

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/young-rugby-player-forced-out-16406625

Apparently looking at centre and ex-Osprey player Joe Thomas. I can't say I know anything about him. If Viljeon is a done deal then it would seem a lot of centres though, particularly when several back three players can cover.

9.Youngs, Harrison, White, Simmons
10.Ford, Hardwick
11.May, Olowofela
12.Reid, Eastmond, Thomas
13.Tuilagi, Taute, Viljeon
14.Holmes, Thompstone, Aspland-Robinson
15.Veainu, Worth

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 3:47 pm

Viljeon is a utility back so might be covering more than centre. I got the impression he'll be similar to Aspland-Robinson this season. If this lad has got as much about him as that article suggests then he could be a handy cheap signing next season. The options coming through the academy aren't very centre heavy and it increasingly looks like Worth will play more at 15.

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Post by king_carlos on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 5:21 pm

From talking to a Stormers fan I work with he feels Viljeon is a 13 who can cover back three due to his pace more than his strength in those positions. Apparently he has gas to burn but his positioning is often array when he covers wing or fullback. That can of course be fixed but I get the impression Viljeon is primarily a centre.

The current depth at fly-half and fullback, along with no rumours about signings in either position, might suggest that Costelow and Steward will get opportunities next season. I'd be all for that if they are worked into strong teams.

I wouldn't be surprised if some cap is held back for a 'RWC bolter' type signing as well. The last one was Veainu and that hasn't worked out too badly at all!

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 5:53 pm

I suspect we'll see a bit of Reid at 10 as well next season. Holmes, Owolofela and SAR can all slot in at 15 so we have options. I hope Costelow and Steward are both drip fed some experience as they appear to be players with a lot of potential.

I particularly like Steward and the idea of a 6 foot 4 fullback commanding the backfield capable of thumping the ball back or stretching his legs. I was impressed with how much Worth's game under the high ball came on last season so hopefully Murphy can get Steward equally reliable.

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Post by king_carlos on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 7:36 pm

Worth was excellent last season in trying circumstances. Poor kicking from scrum-halves giving the opposition back three time, no ball to work with in attack and inexperienced wingers can't have been fun for a fullback. It will be interesting to see if he does go to Wasps for 20/21 season, there were rumours earlier in the season it's a done deal already. Rob Miller re-signed this season along with Minozzi joining so would seem an odd fit.

I'm really excited about Steward moving into the development squad. Tigers have missed a fullback who really commands high balls since Tait suffered his later bout of injuries. Veainu has improved a lot there but it isn't his strength, Worth is solid, Niall Morris was solid, Blaine Scully was solid, etc.

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Post by king_carlos on Fri 14 Jun 2019, 7:09 pm

What do posters think of rumours that Ford Snr is staying longer term and Toby Booth will join?

In the correct roles I'd be happy with both. Ford has a lot of experience as an assistant coach and Booth has success as a forwards coach. My issue with both is that I wouldn't want either progressing past assistant roles to top jobs.

I still feel that Joe Worsley would be an excellent defence and breakdown coach working above Brett Deacon. It's yet to be confirmed whether he will remain at Bordeaux as an assistant under Christophe Orios after being temporary head coach last season after Rory Teague left.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 14 Jun 2019, 10:09 pm

Hmm I'm not a big fan of Booth. He does alright but his packs don't exactly wow or punch above their weight. He's had some good players at Bath and LI and at no point did either have a reputation for great packs though both did have admired backs divisions so his charges must have provided some decent ball.

I'd much prefer Borthwick who gets his packs playing with an intensity that we could really use. That and he gets the lineout working.

Ben Herring would be my preferred defence and breakdown coach and he knows Borthwick having worked with Japan but I doubt he'll head back to Europe. Worsley has quite the calibre as a player but I've not seen much if any of a side he's coached so can't comment.

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Post by nathan on Sat 15 Jun 2019, 10:01 pm

any news on any new players coming in?

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sun 16 Jun 2019, 11:07 am

E W Vijion a utility back that prefers OC from the Stormers. Apparently pretty quick.

Hanro Liebenburg a big number 8 that can play flank and lock. Looks to be a mobile all rounder. Still young, a brute and has captaincy experience.

Coghlan a backrow from Nottingham, similar to Thompson in style and similar build, quite quick and competes for everything.

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Post by LondonTiger on Sun 16 Jun 2019, 4:35 pm

It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest part. Not knowing when — or if — he’ll play again. Not knowing what damage he’s already done to his brain. Not knowing when he’ll next go to bed at night “and not feel like s***”. David Denton’s life has been an endless cycle of uncertainty ever since he went to tackle Cobus Reinach just before half-time in the Leicester v Northampton game on October 6 last year. His temple smashed into the scrum-half’s hip bone, he went off with a concussion and hasn’t been seen on a rugby field since. In the last four months, he hasn’t done as much as a quick lift in the gym, but still his symptoms return with a depressing predictability.

Denton tends to wake up fine, but as the day wears on, his vision starts to blur, his peripheral vision goes “a bit shimmery” and he has to turn every light right up to feel in tune with his surroundings.

It’s the same story every day, even if he’s just sitting on the couch with son Logan, born six weeks into this saga. Denton is still a big man, but the weight has dropped off him, replaced by frustration and worry.

“Every week since mid-October, I was thinking, ‘This will be the week things change’, and eight months later, here I am. I went through all the return-to-play protocols, did it all really slowly and was starting to feel good. After Christmas, I passed all my contact stuff and was cleared to play against Sarries [on February 16], but after we had a really tough session on the Tuesday, I woke up with a headache.

“I thought, ‘Is it the concussion, or am I over-thinking it?’ I went in to train as normal, but before the session I felt like s***. I hadn’t taken any more knocks, but from then on I’ve not been able to train at all. The most exercise I’ve been able to do is a round of golf.”


Denton, who turned 29 in February, has had plenty time to think. About what happens next, but also the longer term. This is his fifth concussion, the previous one — months out from the 2015 World Cup — leaving him needing to take daily anti-migraine medication. Other men he’s played with and against have had many more concussions, but the simple, scary truth is that nobody really knows what’s going on in his brain.

“It would be so much easier if someone could put down on a piece of paper, ‘Here’s what each concussion means, here’s what you’re doing to yourself.’ But even just in terms of this one, I’ve seen some of the best specialists in the UK, they look at me and say, ‘Your scan looks fine, you look like you’ve got a healthy brain, but we don’t know’.

“The glass half-full version is that because I get such bad symptoms and respond so badly, there’s no option for me to take it lightly. Other people get a concussion on the Saturday, wake up on the Sunday and feel 100%. That doesn’t necessarily mean their brain is any less injured than mine. But it does mean that they might take it less seriously.”

The variable nature of these injuries and how individuals react to them means there is an onus on players to self-report symptoms. Denton says it has “literally never crossed my mind” to lie to Leicester coaches or medics about his readiness to take contact, but wonders how his younger self, one with more to prove, would have reacted.

“I’ve had a fairly horrific run [Denton’s two years at Bath were badly disrupted by injury, and even a strong single season with Worcester brought ankle and knee complaints] but I’m lucky in that when I was younger, I never got injured. My career got off to the start it did because I was able to play just about every game for Edinburgh and Scotland.

“If you miss that beginning bit, all of a sudden someone else comes through, whereas I was able to show the best side of my playing ability from a young age. Despite the injury troubles I’ve had of late, most clubs and coaches know what I am. If I was younger, I would have potentially taken more risks. And back then, there wasn’t as much press about concussion either. It wasn’t as big an issue. You now see so many people taking extended time out, but would that be the case if there wasn’t this awareness?”

Leicester have been good with him. He was only six games into a three-year contract when he suffered his concussion, but there has been “no pressure from anyone”, even at the height of a dreadful season that saw the Tigers finish second last. “It’s horrible, because all you want to do is get out there and help, and for the first few months I was coming into training it must have looked like there was nothing wrong with me. But the coaches have continually reminded me that their priority is my health. I really appreciate that understanding, but I’m also not naïve enough to think it can last three years.”

He and Leicester know the situation needs to be resolved. One way or another. Denton wants to get back on the pitch, wants to repay the Tigers’ faith, but accepts the decision isn’t just his to make.

“I’m due back in on June 24, and at that point I’ll talk to the medics, talk to the specialists again and see what other avenues we can explore. If it’s still my head giving me issues, that’s obviously not a good thing for my career. I expect then there might be some specialists with some serious opinions on what I should be doing. But there’s still a possibility it’s something else making me feel this way, and I’ve got to tick all the boxes to make sure I give myself the best chance of playing again.

“That’s what I love doing and that’s what I want to keep doing, so I’ll be taking the advice of the medical professionals. If they tell me it’s not safe to keep playing rugby anymore, well, it’s not safe. Whatever happens, life goes on. I’m excited for the next chapter of my life, which I hope is not for another few years.”

Zimbabwe-born Denton, who originally came to Edinburgh to study economics, had already signed up to do an MBA at the University of Warwick. Whenever the time for transition comes, his intellect, confidence and bonhomie will stand him in good stead.

For now, though, he is focused on getting better, looking after his body and his boy. “Becoming a new parent when you’ve a head injury has been interesting, but in some respects it’s been amazing because I’ve been able to spend much more time with my son than other new dads might get. At the same time, there’s a part of me that really hates the fact I’m going to have a lot of negative thoughts about this period as well. Not just because I’ve been feeling [physically] s***, but because mentally it’s been tough.

“I want to get to a point where I don’t end the day feeling s***. Where if I have to watch bloody nursery rhyme videos for two hours, I don’t get a headache. I hope I’m getting there. We’ll see what happens in the next few months.”

TBH for his and his family's sake I hope he retires.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Sun 16 Jun 2019, 9:02 pm

He should retire take the insurance payout and spend time with his family. I'm sure he's desperate to get back to playing the sport he loves for the team that has looked after him and probably for more money than he'll earn doing something else. He's got to put his long term future and his family first, surely it's not worth the risk of another big head injury.

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Post by king_carlos on Sun 16 Jun 2019, 10:37 pm

Such a shame for the bloke. He was in excellent form for Tigers in those 6 games as well. The more you hear about it the more you think he should retire rather than risk another head knock.

I'm not sure where he'd stand in terms of insurance payout or Tigers paying the rest of his contract. If a player doesn't take the field (or be named on the bench) for a first XV game all season then their salary can be excluded from the salary cap. So from Tigers perspective they could technically pay Denton and bring in a replacement if the funds are there.

On the one hand I wonder if Tigers season would have been different had Genge, Spencer, Thompson and Denton not spent time out injured. On the other hand it's the fault of our poor recruitment that the depth wasn't there to cover first XV injuries.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Mon 17 Jun 2019, 5:15 pm

Yet three of those four we could have done with fit only arrived last summer. So much better scouting leading to the signings last summer.

It might be that Denton spends next season trying to recover and we use his cap elsewhere. With then the possibility of returning to play for the third year of his contract. That wouldn't be a great return for Tigers and would be tough on him as well.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 19 Jun 2019, 2:19 pm

Cardiff, Pau & Calvisano. Thoughts?

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Wed 19 Jun 2019, 4:40 pm

LondonTiger wrote:Cardiff, Pau & Calvisano. Thoughts?

Winnable. Pau will only turn up at home and Calvisano should be a brace of TBPs. Cardiff are a decent side but might not be that well stocked at 10 after the merry-go-round of playmakers at the regions. We should have them at WR and be able to get a LBP away.

That is assuming we aren't as incompetent as this season.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 20 Jun 2019, 2:00 am

Cardiff’s current 10 might just be the best in Wales though. They’ll be very reliant on him being fit for sure as Morgan and Tovey are merely considered adequate cover. Their defence is poor and you can get to them in the forwards where they have okay players backed up by new guys. One of their most promising new guys in the front row will be at Saracens.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Thu 20 Jun 2019, 7:37 am

Better than Anscombe and Patchell? Cardiff don't have much on paper to worry Tigers but they play well as a side which currently Tigers do not.

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 20 Jun 2019, 8:09 am

I think us, Cardiff and Pau will be looking at 4 wins, so could come down to bonus points.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Thu 20 Jun 2019, 8:29 am

Pau finished 11th last season, they might need to concentrate on the league. Then again I suppose you could say the same for us. I expect everyone to go hard at home and then look for 10 points from Italy and see what they can nick on the road with a few players rested.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 20 Jun 2019, 2:57 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:Better than Anscombe and Patchell? Cardiff don't have much on paper to worry Tigers but they play well as a side which currently Tigers do not.

Certainly Patchell right now who has been struggling to return to form. Anscombe is a solid and confident player now, but has less pace and is less skillful than Evans. There was a reason that when both are available Evans would be favoured at 10. That may divide opinion, but it’s pretty clear to me.

Cardiff’s backline should worry you.

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Post by Gooseberry on Thu 20 Jun 2019, 3:11 pm

It says a lot about Tigers fall that we are asking if they are capable of winning the group in the "everyone deserves a chance" cup.

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