Ben Youngs was proud of the effort from the young Leicester Tigers team away to the second-placed Sale Sharks on Friday night at AJ Bell Stadium.
"We are disappointed tonight, the changing room is not a happy one and any suggestion we aren't here to win is off the mark"
A Leicester side missing several of the club's most experienced campaigners fought back from a slow start, which handed Sale a 16-point lead before half-time, before allowing the home side to regather that lead shortly before full-time.
Speaking post-match, Youngs said: “It was pretty ferocious out there."
“I am unbelievably proud of the effort, especially from some younger guys tonight who got their chance after earning it with their efforts at training and performances so far this season.
The experienced Tigers scrum-half was also pleased to see some of the club’s younger players earn a first Premiership start.
“I am really pleased for Will [Hurd] and Nic [Dolly] to get their Premiership debuts for the club and to see a young guy like David Williams earn his appearance of this season,” he said.
“The younger guys in the squad are all impressing each week at training and pushing all of us to be better. The competition in the group is really building and it's a great thing for the club.”
Looking back on the game, the matchday squad captain echoed his Head Coach’s assessment of the defeat in admitting a slow-start had the Leicester side chasing the Sharks.
“We had a game plan to play in the right areas tonight but didn't get off to a good start and execute that plan well enough, which had us chasing the game for the rest of the match,” said Youngs.
“I was proud of the way we got ourselves back in to the game, competing and on track with the plan ... it shows if you aren't there for the full 80 minutes, you are going to struggle to get the result.
“Sale are a very good team, up high on the Prem ladder and tonight - with a younger side - we showed we can match it with the top teams.”
"The competition in the group is really building and it's a great thing for the club"
The Tigers scrum-half also put to bed any suggestions that, while there are positives to take from the game, losing is in any way acceptable for the Leicester squad.
“We don't want to lose games, we don't enjoy losing games,” he said.
“We are disappointed tonight, the changing room is not a happy one and any suggestion we aren't here to win is off the mark. Nobody wants to lose at Leicester Tigers.”
However, what is pleasing Youngs and his fellow Tigers is the growth in a team who are still in the early stages of their journey.
“We are still are pretty young team in terms of experience together on the pitch and still learning about one another,” Youngs said.
“But, there are positive signs and we definitely improving ... we just need to keep working hard at training every week, learning fast and trust in what the coaches have in place.”
The squad’s most experienced player, with 259 appearances for Tigers, believes the young group is on the right path and just need to remain patient.
“Steve [Borthwick] is doing a great job and everybody is committed to what we are building at Tigers; there's a plan in place, we know that we are nowhere near where we want to be and there is a lot of hard work ahead,” added Youngs.
“It's going to take time and patience but, ultimately, going to take hard work and we are all on board with that.”
Leicester Tigers joined fellow Gallagher Premiership clubs in supporting Restart Round during this round by dedicating this weekend’s fixture to players’ mental health.