Rugby remains a game for all shapes and sizes – at most levels anyway – which means there will always be specialists. But the all-rounders are still worth their weight in gold.
Last season, while Sam Harrison was making a name for himself wherever he played, including as a goalkicking 10 or an emergency wing as well as scrum-half, Greg Bateman etched his name into the Tigers record books by completing a shift in every front-row position.
Bateman’s claims to the hooker’s shirt have slipped but he has been seen only at loosehead prop this season, where his footwork and ball-carrying have become conspicuous including in that eyecatching try in the win at Harlequins. (For the record, Bateman has added a kicking dimension to his skillset this season too, judging by the clearance of his own lines in the win over Exeter last week.)
But The Tig salutes another all-rounder in the form of Luke Hamilton who has now completed a cleansweep of his own in all three back-row shirts.
Hamilton arrived quietly from Agen, where the young Welshman was noted mostly for the number of tackles he had made in a Top 14 season, though it was not a surprising stat given the lack of possession the newly-promoted side had in elite company.
He has played most of his rugby at the base of the scrum, though we have also seen him at six with Tigers.
Then in pre-season we saw him in the seven shirt and that continued in the win over Gloucester and again, even more impressively, in the win over defending champions Exeter last week.
The work he got through in the first half-hour against the Chiefs would stand comparison with many of the big names in the back row for Tigers over the years
A fetcher, carrier and turnover winner still has pride of place in the seven shirt, with Brendon O’Connor and Will Evans among the textbook types at Tigers, and balance is a priority in the back row of any top-level team, but Hamilton’s versatility can only help his claims on a jersey, whichever number it may carry.