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Bateman makes rare cleansweep in front row

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Greg Bateman may not be the most recognised player in the star-studded ranks of Leicester Tigers front rows, but this weekend he will make a piece of club history.

At the first scrum in the opening Anglo-Welsh Cup fixture of the season at Bath on Friday evening, Bateman will complete the notable achievement of packing down in each of the front-row positions for the Tigers in the same season – a season which at this point is barely two months old.
Even The Tig, who knows enough about front-row play to never ever get caught there, understands this is not as simple as 1-2-3 (or A-B-C as many of us would still prefer).
The front row at the top levels is as much about angles and experience as it is about brute strength and attitude. There is a mass of devil in the detail of the technicalities which separate the individual positions.
Props who can play on both sides at the top level are pretty thin on the ground these days. Men like Logovi’i Mulipola, and before him Martin Castrogiovanni, are worth their considerable weight in gold in a salary-capped league and in terms of keeping your most effective performers all on the pitch at key points of big games.
Pressure on at least some of your props to be able to play both sides has been reduced by the inclusion of a full front row among the replacements, which means the necessary skills and mentality may disappear altogether in time.
Bateman arrived at Leicester as a hooker who had played at prop, and this season he has seen more first-team action on the tighthead side than he has in the centre of the front row. Now he is taking another step to the left, emerging into the semi-daylight world of the loosehead.
Even for a club that turned an England age-group centre into a British & Irish Lions hooker, that is an incredible achievement all round.