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Hard-grafter Charlie prepares for home start

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Few players embody the ‘Tigers DNA’ better than Charlie Clare.

A former Tigers Academy captain, the Norfolk-born hooker forged his own path in the Championship and Premiership before returning to Leicester at the start of the season, ready to graft his way into a green, white and red shirt.

And now, with a first Gallagher Premiership start under his belt, he prepares to run out at Welford Road this afternoon (3.00pm) against Sale Sharks.

“There are a lot of people at the club who have come through the academy, have a really strong link to Leicester and really care for this club, and I’m no different,” he said.

“When you’re digging in for 80 minutes or when things get tough, if you have that desire not to let the Tigers Family down, it can really spur you on.

“That’s only going to grow stronger, really, the more we can instil that in the wider squad.”

Clare leads the way in that regard, alongside close friend Calum Green and fellow East Anglians the Youngs brothers, as well as a spine of former academy men throughout the senior squad.

But he explained that it’s a two-pronged attack – on driving that hunger and desire, as well as working on the finer rugby details – that will see Tigers thrive under head coach Steve Borthwick.

“You’re not left wondering what’s expected of you,” Clare continued. “There’s no cryptic messaging in what he’s saying, it’s just black and white.

“Then you can crack on with exactly what you need to do to improve.”

Another aspect to have improved in recent weeks has been the squad’s match fitness, under assistant coach Aled Walters.

With injuries meaning replacement hooker Jake Kerr was called upon in the back row in Round 17, front-rower Clare played a full 80 minutes last time out at Gloucester.

“You just keep playing until someone tells you to get off the pitch,” he laughed. “But it was great to play a full 80 and I thoroughly enjoyed it, apart from the result.

“The energy that Aled brings and the work that we’re doing has been showing. In a lot of the games since we’ve been back, we’ve been strong in the last 20.

“If we can keep that up – and improve the start of our games – we should be in a really good spot.”