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Christmas presents a time for giving

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It is the season of goodwill, a time for giving and a time for reflection, a time for The Tig to hand out the half-term reports and prizes.

Tigers would be the first to admit form has been patchy and inconsistent, but we’re still in there fighting.
Performance of the Season so far would be either the win over racing just a week after a humbling defeat by Glasgow, or ending Bath’s unbeaten start to the season at Welford Road. A word, too, for the team that went to The Rec and won in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and, especially, to the rejigged line-up that held on during the closing stages to win by a point there.
If the Player of the Year award was to be presented this month, you would have to think Freddie Burns would be right up there in the reckoning.
Burns has been in top form with hand and boot, with his interception try providing the breakthrough against Racing, and his mix of pragmatism and flamboyance being reflected in his Aviva Premiership Player of the Month award.
The Tig would also put Adam Thompstone in the frame. Strong in defence, persistent in attack, determined in the kickchase and with five tries so far, the wing has been prominent throughout the season. A player who never claims the headlines, Thompstone has been playing with great confidence and his physicality has made a big impression on a number of opponents.
Ed Slater has made a welcome return from frustrating injuries and The Tig would have him and skipper Tom Youngs among the contenders too.
If anything tops the Telusa Veainu score against Worcester, the Try of the Season is going to have to be a worldie. Claiming possession near halfway, Telusa jinks inside, beats a couple of defenders and is then lined up by the Warriors back row. End of story you think. Well you might think that, but he doesn’t. He bounces off the big hit, keeps his feet moving and goes through a gap for a solo score worthy of any generation of Tigers stars.
There have been some other good scores, but Telusa’s is one of those ‘I was there’ moments you are unlikely to see repeated.
We were all looking forward to crowning Matt Toomua as Newcomer of the Year and his loss has been keenly felt, especially with Manu only just getting back to fitness. But Luke Hamilton is making a bit of a name for himself after settling in. He carries well and gets through his work, and can only get better with the experience.
George Worth is staking his claim to a Breakthrough Award after impressing in a run of games since injury to Veainu and Tait. The young full-back has hit the ground running, literally, with a confidence under the high ball and an ability to present a moving target for tacklers. With the ability to play at 10 and centre too, he could prove to be a valuable asset.
Greg Bateman would be The Tig’s Unsung Hero, barely missing a game in the opening months of the season. The form of Harry Thacker and the arrival of George McGuigan pushed him down the pecking order at hooker, but Bateman has reinvented himself as a ball-carrrying tighthead and has stood up to the test. With a game at loosehead too, he joined an exclusive club of players who had filled all three front-row positions for the Tigers.
Sam Harrison would usually be our Unsung Hero, but he has gone beyond that role. We know and love what he brings, and would be a pick for Impact Player of the Season for the zip and commitment he brings, whether he starts or comes off the bench.  
If there was an award for Wish You Were Here, there would be some serious competition, with Manu sidelined for a couple of months and Matt Toomua so unlucky. Mike Williams, too, has been a big miss with his ferocious physicality in attack and defence. It would be nice to see Mat Tait and Telusa back again soon too.
International Player of the Year would have to be Ben Youngs, England’s man of the series in the autumn and again a favourite of the national media, many of whom have written him off at points in the past.
Team of the Year will be the one that takes Tigers up from fourth in the Aviva Premiership and stretches the season into its knockout stages and, hopefully, beyond!