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Grindal can't wait for Welford Road return

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A first trip to the new-look Welford Road since his return to Leicester Tigers has served only to increase James Grindal's impatience to get back on 'home' turf at the start of the new season.

“The stadium is amazing,” the 28-year-old scrum-half says, looking up at the redevelopment work on the Caterpillar Stand.

“It is going up to 24,000 capacity for the new season and then more in the future, and it has been the talk of the changing room. The players are looking forward to running out in front of an even bigger, more raucous crowd and a more intimidating atmosphere for opposition teams coming here.”

Coventry-born Grindal made his Tigers debut as a 19-year-old in 1999 and was in the first-team squad which won three league titles and two Heineken Cups before moving on to Newcastle Falcons in 2002. Now, after seven years in the North-East, he has sealed a return to the East Midlands.

“Once I knew Leicester were interested, I was very happy to come back here, and that is no disrespect to Newcastle because I had seven great years there,” he says.

“Our first home game is against Newcastle and I can’t wait. Welford Road looks fantastic and, even though we’re only just starting back in training, the start of the season doesn’t seem far away.”

While Welford Road has changed this summer, Grindal has been met by some familiar faces after his seven-year absence.

Lewis Moody and Geordan Murphy were here when I first started at the club, then Ben Kay, George Chuter and Brett and Louis Deacon,” he says.

“It’s been really easy to settle back in. A few of the guys have had a bit of banter about coming back but I remind them I am still 28 years young. I think I have some good years ahead of me.”