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Bittersweet emotions for Costelow after senior debut

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Leicester Tigers development fly-half Sam Costelow says he and his young team-mates ‘learned a lot about how to win and lose games’ in a first senior appearance last weekend.

Costelow was one half of an 18-year-old half-back pairing away at Worcester, alongside scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet, with both having been promoted to the development squad for 2019/20 following back-to-back league successes with the Tigers Academy.

And after an opportunity to pull on a senior shirt for the first time in the opening round of the Premiership Rugby Cup, Costelow is eager to draw on the experience as he continues into his first year of full-time rugby.

“We were obviously on the wrong side of the result, but just to be out there with the boys was a really good experience,” he said.

“We learned a lot about how to win and lose games.

“It was a special moment walking in [to the dressing room] and seeing the number 10 under my names, and it was nice to see it as a bit of a reward for all the hard work you’ve put in.

“But you want to keep that jersey and don’t want it to be the last time that you wear it. I wanted to perform well in it, and not just ‘have’ the jersey.”

As well as his half-back partner, Costelow was joined by five more of his league-winning team-mates on the field at Sixways, who all enjoyed a bittersweet moment with their families following the final whistle.

He continued: “[A lot of us] came through the academy together, [so] the parents talk to each other and get a bit of a bond together.

“After the game it’s nice to come off the field with your mates and have all the families there together as well, but we’re just obviously gutted about the result.”

While the young side were beaten by a more senior Warriors outfit, Costelow insists that the Tigers cubs can build on the performance moving forward.

“We’re looking really fit as a team,” he added. “Pre-season has been tough, so we’re in a good place and team morale is really high.

“[I want to play] fast rugby, but also playing in the right areas. There’s no point running the ball out of your own 22, [so] it’s about playing in the right areas, game management, and then hopefully pulling the trigger when the ball comes.”

Tigers return to Welford Road for a first home fixture of the season this Friday, September 27, and the Wales U20s international says he has been learning just as much from the club’s more experienced heads at Oval Park.

“We’ve been learning a lot in training [from the senior players], and it’s just all really good experience,” he concurred. “It would be great to get the opportunity to play at Welford Road.

“We just want to play our game. We’re not going to go outside of our systems, and if we can stick to our systems and play well, then we’re going to cause any team problems.”

Secure your place for the opening home match of 2019/20 online, in person at Welford Road, or by calling the Tigers ticket office on 0116 319 8888 (option 2).