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Development XV look for winning edge

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Tigers Development travel to Henley tonight to take on London Wasps in the first leg of the Guinness A League Final (kick off 7.30pm).

Andy Key's side will be looking to put themselves in a promising position ahead of the second leg at Welford Road on Monday, May 7, when they hope to secure their third successive crown, having lifted the trophy in 2005 and 2006.
"This is where the emphasis switches from development to creating a winning mentality," said Kay, head of rugby development. "Up until this point, we have been looking at individual player development, but now that we have reached the final, our attentions turn to winning the trophy.
"We want to instil that edge into all the players who pull on a Tigers shirt and, if we can do that at A League level, then hopefully that will have a positive effect throughout the club."
Despite the shift in priorities ahead of the two-legged final, Key is keen to stress that development remains the ultimate aim of A League rugby.
"It is important remember that the tournament as a whole has been about the development of some of the club's most promising players. We have fielded a number of academy players during our 10 games so far and they have all learned from the experience," he said. "These guys have the chance to play alongside some of the more experienced pros and that can only benefit them in the long run. Playing in front of big crowds is also an important part of their preparation for first-team rugby and the support we have had at Welford Road this year has been fantastic."
As well as acting as a breeding ground for young talent, the A League also provides an ideal springboard for those players looking to return to first-team action after injury or non-selection. This evening's side includes Ian Humphreys, Matt Cornwell, Johne Murphy, Leon Lloyd, James Buckland, James Hamilton, Luke Abraham, Henry Tuilagi and Jordan Crane, all of whom have played a major role in the recent success of the senior team.
"A League rugby also has its benefits to some of the clubs more experience players," said Key. "Tonight is a good opportunity for some of those lads to push for first-team inclusion. A competitive first team is what everyone at the club is aiming for and we have certainly had that this season. Hopefully the guys on the pitch tonight will put their hands up and make selection decisions even more difficult for the first-team coaching staff."
With Tigers still fighting hard in the Heineken Cup and Guinness Premiership, that sort of competition for places would be a welcome headache for Pat Howard and his team.