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Ford relieved by reset after bruising block

Tigers fly-half Joe Ford says his side will welcome a fallow week after a bruising block of Gallagher Premiership games.

The squad are without a game this weekend before they host East Midlands rivals Northampton Saints at Welford Road next Friday (March 22, 7.45pm).

Ford explained the week without a game comes at the best possible time, given a lengthy injury list at Oval Park and a number of players away on international duty.

“Where we are as a squad, with a few injuries in some key positions, I think we need this week to get some boys back and fresh,” Ford said. “Then we’ve got a massive game next Friday.”

The 28-year-old started in last week’s loss at Sale, but was adamant that Tigers can still take some positives out of the match.

He said: “Obviously, they had a very strong side out. They’re notoriously good at home, and the conditions were pretty tough to play in, so when it comes to those kind of nights they’re pretty wise in how to deal with it.

“I know the scoreboard probably doesn’t say it, but there were still some positive signs for us.

“It was probably that last 15 minutes where they started to run away with it, but when you look back at the video we’ve got some positives to take.”

“East Midlands derbies are always big, but with where we are in the league and where they are in the league, it’ll be a massive game.”

Joe Ford

The Tigers backline that took to the field at the AJ Bell Stadium had just 36 Premiership starts for the club between them; with 15 of those for Jonah Holmes alone, and 14 between Ford and inside centre Kyle Eastmond.

But Ford insisted that the young players added to the team on Friday night.

“The advantage with playing younger guys is the energy level,” he explained. “The lads are all so eager to play, and both myself and Kyle found it really good how the boys wanted to get their hands on the ball.

“Obviously there were a few errors came into the game, but that’s just experience and it’ll be a great learning curve for all the lads and will pay off in the long run.”

Nevertheless, head coach Geordan Murphy will hope to include a number of Tigers’ international stars – including Joe’s younger brother George – when Gallagher Premiership action returns to Welford Road next week.

And Joe, who starred in Tigers’ last home performance against Wasps, hopes that the club’s supporters will help drive the side on.

“It’ll be unbelievable – the game is massive,” he added. “East Midlands derbies are always big, but with where we are in the league and where they are in the league, it’ll be a massive game.

“Just thinking back to that Wasps game a couple of weeks ago, the fans got us through that, and so they’ll be a massive part if we’re going to win next Friday.

“We’re looking forward to it.”