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Absent friends

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It's getting to that time of year when we cast nostalgic glances backwards, recounting memorable moments, for good or for bad, and taking a second or two to look forwards.

This week The Tig was just thinking about Tigers’ recent fortunes, not so much throughout the whole of 2014, but more just since the start of this season.

Lamenting the lack of gametime for key men such as Manu, Ed Slater, Tom Youngs, Crofty and the like, The Tig came up with a startling team of players who have yet to start an Aviva Premiership fixture this season. So how about this for a line-up, when all fit and available:

Hamilton, Thompstone, Loamanu, Hepetema, Camacho, Bell, Mele; Ayerza, Briggs, Cole, Deacon, Price, Slater, Matera, Pearce.

That looks like a very competitive side, with seven internationals in there, and you could still have space on the bench for the likes of Thacker, Brugnara, Sio, Harrison and Roberts.

Thankfully, some of those guys will make themselves unavailable for this Tig Unfortunate XV when they run out for kick-off against Saracens at Welford Road on Sunday. Having Dan Cole back could be just the start too with Youngs, Croft, Morris, Tuilagi, Mulipola, Bai and several others gradually getting back to full fitness.

The form of the young lads in the squad during the cup weeks and the development of guys like Balmain, Bristow, Pasquali and de Chaves over the first three months of the season can only help too in terms of increasing the strength in depth.

Cockers will be looking forward to facing some difficult selection decisions soon enough.