Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Allen, Mathew Tait, Steve Mafi, Tom Croft and Geoff Parling have all missed large chunks of the season already for various reasons, while summer signing Gonzalo Camacho has yet to play for the club. All will be very warmly welcomed when they do run out in red, white and green.
Take some key men out of any team in world rugby and they’ll suffer for it. When those guys are right at the heartbeat of the side you wouldn’t expect anything else.
We’d all surely love to see the Tigers physios with their feet up enjoying the view from the touchline on matchday; Lord knows they deserve it after the number of injuries in the first half of the season. First, though, they need to get everyone back fully fit and raring to go!
What are the odds on seeing a Tigers team in a run of games without anyone being injured, and changes in selection being made only to rest and rotate rather than in necessity?
Mathew Tait has now played two full matches on his return – his first since the Aviva Premiership Final back in May. Thrown back in against a powerful Saracens side, on their artificial pitch, in the worst weather conditions of the season so far, his return was probably the only bright spot on a grey day.
He has already shown some glimpses of the form which took him back into the international reckoning at the end of last season – a raking clearance kick down the touchline and a couple of nice attacks against Sale as well as some clean catches under pressure come to mind – and a run of games is just what he needs. It’s the least he deserves after such bad luck with injuries since his arrival.
It was great to see Anthony Allen and Rob Hawkins alongside the 23-man matchday squad in the warm-up on Saturday too.
Cockers said last week than Anth, who has played just four games this season, was approaching match fitness and just to see him in training kit provided a pick-me-up for all.
Hawkins has yet to play this season but his return is a timely boost for the front-row options as we reach the second half of the season.
It’s going to take a run of big performances, in similar style to recent seasons, to take Tigers back into the top four and keep them there. To do that we’re going to need everyone back and firing on all cylinders. Good health!