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All-round ability adds to selection options

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Looking at the Tigers quad ahead of kick-off in a new season, there is a versatility that perhaps has not been bettered in recent memory.

Richard Cockerill this week commented that the game of rugby at the top level is getting both faster and more physical, which means the players have to be built well enough to withstand it while athletic enough to still shine in it.
Rugby prides itself on being a game to suit all bodysizes and bodyshapes, though those shapes and sizes are obviously at their most extreme at the highest level.
Yet, glancing at the list of names in Tigers shirts for 2016/17, there is definitely a sense of mobility among the players, certainly in the back five of the pack and in multi-tasking backs.
The pack, for example, could include Ed Slater, Mike Fitzgerald or Mike Williams in either second row or back row, Brendon O’Connor or Lachlan McCaffrey at 6, 7 or 8, and Luke Hamilton at 6 or 8.
The front row, too, has a skillset to vary its game, led by skipper and former centre Tom Youngs at hooker. In Ellis Genge we have a loosehead prop who until a couple of seasons ago was an age-group starlet at No8, while there are few Test level props anywhere in the world who can anchor on either side of the front row as well as Logo Mulipola. Harry Thacker has already shown his all-round skills at hooker or flanker, and Greg Bateman has lined up at tighthead and in the centre of the scrum.   
In the backs, where arguably there has always been a greater degree of interchanging positions, there are multi-purpose players wherever you look.
Peter Betham is an international wing who played most of last season at centre, where Manu Tuilagi can play inside or outside his midfield partner. We’ve seen Mathew Tait at 12 and 13 as well as at full-back, a position he only moved into full-time when he joined the Tigers. Telusa Veainu has impressed anywhere in the back three and everyone at Welford Road appreciates what Matt Smith can bring in a number of positions.
Also, trough necessity at times last season Owen Williams added playing at inside centre to his list of skills, while Sam Harrison has some experience in both half-back positions, George Catchpole has played wing and centre, and new signings JP Pietersen and Matt Toomua have both played Test rugby in different shirts.
The versatility can also give an impact from the bench which top-level times require in such an attritional sport.
Rugby is a multi-faceted game at the top level and players need a skillset to be able to adapt to conditions, opponents and gameplans as well as enforced positional changes game to game. And with a salary cap restricting serial recruitment to fill tiny holes, all-rounders can be worth their weight in gold.