Today marks 50 days until the start of the Rugby World Cup – and 51 to Tigers’ first game in the new season’s Premiership Rugby Cup. One signifies the culmination of four years’ planning while the other is just a starting point for the next 12 months.
Six Tigers players are currently in camp with England and the club could also have representation with Wales, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga in Japan this autumn.
While everyone looks forward to seeing their favourite players on the biggest international stage, there is also apprehension around how many players make it to the final selection and how many seniors will remain behind for the crucial opening phase in the Tigers’ domestic season.
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They all go with the blessing of the club and the support of the fans, but we will be counting the days to their return with Tigers kicking off the Premiership Cup campaign at Worcester on September 21 and then setting the ball rolling on the Gallagher Premiership against the same opponents at Sixways a month later.
Geordan and his staff continue their own countdown under the assumption that they will be without around a dozen players, which makes this extra-long pre-season more important than ever.
Senior players will have to lead, young players will have to step up and there is an opportunity for those in the middle to stake a claim as the next Geordan Murphy or Ben Kay who both firmly established themselves as first-choice players during World Cup years, when they were handed regular opportunities to go with their undoubted playing potential.
It is a challenge that has to be met – with four rounds of the Cup and three in the Gallagher Premiership all to be played before the World Cup is over, and just one round of league competition scheduled between the Final and the opening week of European club competition.