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Both sides happy with opening warm-up

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Richard Cockerill says the opening pre-season fixture at the Ospreys on Friday provided exactly the kind of challenge the players needed as the countdown started to the start of the new season.

Tigers scored three tries in a 26-21 defeat at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, with Cockerill and head coach Aaron Mauger taking the opportunity to give a run-out to 29 players.
Led by the experience of Tom Youngs, Mathew Tait, Ed Slater and Matt Smith, the Leicester squad also included Manu Tuilagi, Freddie Burns, Marcos Ayerza and new England international Ellis Genge, plus summer signings Luke Hamilton and george McGuigan. Young prospects Ben White, George Worth, Sam Yawayawa and 17-year-old Tom Hardwick also gained an opportunity to play in senior company.
“It was a good hit-out, I think everybody got what they wanted out of it,” said director of rugby Cockerill. “I think both sets of players and coaches will be relatively happy.
“Both sides’ fitness looked good for this stage of the year, the set-piece was a good contest and now we’ll both have work to do before we meet again at Welford Road in a fortnight’s time.”
Tuilagi and Burns were welcomed back after seeing their 2015/16 campaigns ended by injury and Cockerill said: “Freddie had that ankle injury in the European semi-final but he got 18-20 minutes here. It was just to get a bit of fitness and build from there.
“Manu had that hamstring injury at the end of the season and there was no stress tonight, it was just about going out and starting to play again for him. That is what the exercise is all about.”
Tigers head to Italy today – after being joined by South Africa wing JP Pietersen – and have a week in camp before playing a warm-up fixture against Benetton Treviso on Friday. Then they welcome the Ospreys to Welford Road on Friday, August 26, just a week before the Aviva Premiership season kicks off with a trip to face Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm.