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Anth hits his targets in Tigers shirt

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Quietly but undeniably, Anthony Allen is becoming a senior influential figure in the Leicester Tigers squad. And his qualities are being seen by those who view him from a distance as well as the team-mates who see him up close every week.

A ‘boy wonder’ in his early days with Gloucester, Anth has matured into a key senior figure with Tigers and a real players’ player. He didn’t win their vote as the players’ player of the year in 2011 for nothing.

Some players can catch the eye with an outstanding performance in front of the TV cameras, by scoring a scintillating try in the presence of an appreciative commentary team, or enjoy a purple patch of form around a key part of the season. They become flavour of the month but then are over-burdened by the weight of expectation.

Other players, and Anth is certainly one, set and maintain high standards over the course of a long campaign. They might not grab the headlines every week – or any week come to that – but they’re never far away from their best.

At Tigers we’ve had a few of them over the years, with Louis Deacon as good an example as any.

To label such players as ‘reliable’ can severely under-estimate their worth. Reliable is not always seen as praise, but portrays the image of honest trier. Boring even.

Allen is not a boring player, unless you think consistency is tedious.

He is a tenacious defender, he’s an organiser on the pitch, he appears to have the complete support and trust of his team-mates. The world of rugby might sometimes appear to think solely that bigger means better, but Anth chops them down at the knees, or the ankles, just the same.

He’s also intelligent enough to see a gap when in possession and good enough to hit it as an attacker.

He’s had big games in big contests, his head-to-head record with other top-class centres does not see him wanting, and he looks like he thoroughly enjoys every second of it.

And that is no mean thing when you think back to the coverage of his uncomfortable England debut back in his formative days.

Manu looks like he enjoys the link-up too. Could it also happen in a white shirt this season?