Charlie Clare is enjoying being back on the training paddock with his Tigers team-mates, fighting for a place in the Leicester pack.
The front-rower suffered a leg injury in the club’s opening pre-season fixture of the 21/22 campaign, away to Jersey Reds, which saw him sit out the opening two months of the season.
“We don’t want to take the easy option here, it’s always about how we can improve and how much harder we can work"
Clare made a return to action in the opening round of the Premiership Cup, away to Wasps, and has since appeared off the bench in the league and European competitions.
Looking back on his time on the touchlines, recovering from injury, he said: “It’s hard, you want to play and want to be involved.
“But it gave me a chance to reflect on things and improve certain aspects of my game to come back stronger.
“It’s good to be looking at yourself, looking at ways that you can improve and taking accountability for everything you are doing to get yourself back on the field.”
Clare is in arguably one of the most competitive positions at the club, alongside and up against Tom Cowan-Dickie, Nic Dolly and Julián Montoya, as well as England Under-20s representative Archie Vanes for the hooker role.
However, rather than see competition us a negative, the 30-year-old is enjoying the opportunity to ‘challenge’ for a shirt.
“It has been great to be a part of it all,” he said.
“Everyone has their own aspects which we challenge each other on - throwing, physicality, scrummaging - it is a group effort to help each other improve.”
After graduating from the Tigers Academy, where he worked with current team-mates Dan Cole, Calum Green, as well as Ben and Tom Youngs, Clare spent time at Bedford, Jersey, Nottingham and Northampton Saints before returning to Leicester ahead of the 19/20 season.
Since his return, he has made 39 appearances in red, white and green during a period of re-shaping at the club and identified one clear difference to the club he walked back into in 2019 to now, under Steve Borthwick.
“It’s accountability, definitely,” said Clare.
“Look at last weekend; Saturday’s game is cancelled and we all turn up for an extra, tough session at Oval Park.
“Previously, it might have been about all heading to the pub.”
Further sharing an insight into the mindset of the squad, Clare added: “We don’t want to take the easy option here, it’s always about how we can improve and how much harder we can work.
“We’re all accountable.”
Clare was included in Borthwick's matchday squad for last weekend's Heineken Champions Cup fixture against Bordeaux Bègles, which was cancelled following a COVID-19 outbreak at the French club.
The Tigers head coach will name his side for Sunday's return to Gallagher Premiership action on Friday (January 28) at midday.