Club captain Tom Youngs has echoed head coach Steve Borthwick in urging Leicester Tigers to become ‘the quickest learners’ in European rugby.
After Gallagher Premiership wins over Northampton Saints and London Irish in recent weeks – and close-fought contests with high-flying Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks – Tigers now fight on a European front.
After tournament organisers EPCR cancelled Tigers’ European Challenge Cup quarter-final with Castres Olympique, the men from Leicester now travel to Toulon on Saturday (September 26) in the final four.
For Youngs, the game offers another opportunity for a new-look Tigers side to build on improved form in the resumption to the rugby season.
“We’re feeling a real sense of the direction we’re going in,” the hooker said. “The way we’re working, even in the games you can see – bar one – that we’ve been fighting to the very end.
“Fitness levels have improved, training is very competitive. Steve makes it very, very challenging and that’s fantastic, because you’re only going to get better when it’s challenging and you’re not comfortable.
“We need to be the quickest learners. We know we’re down the bottom of the league and we need to learn as quickly as possible and get better every day.”
And while Premiership rugby serves as the club’s bread and butter, Leicester’s history in European competition will also spur them on as they taste knockout rugby again.
Youngs continued: “When you get a chance in a quarter-final or a semi-final, the opportunity – one shot – is fantastic, so knockout rugby is always important.
“This is a great opportunity and there’s an excitement around this competition. Europe is very important to us players and the club, but ultimately it’s just nice to have that opportunity to chase a bit of silverware and see where we could end up.
“We’re into knockout rugby, which is great experience for the whole squad – not just the 23 who go out and play at the weekend but for the whole group in our preparation.
“Already, it’s been a huge learning for the squad this week and it’ll only make the group better for it in the long run.”