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Hard work ensures Goode stays confident

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With the first friendly of the year taking place this Saturday, fly-half Andy Goode believes the Tigers squad are in great shape ahead of what is sure to be another demanding season of top-flight rugby.

The nine-times capped England international, who is one of a number of hugely experienced players travelling to Cornwall to face the Cornish Pirates this Saturday, has been impressed with the attitude of his team-mates throughout pre-season.

"The boys have been working hard," said Goode. "The fitness and conditioning staff have had us working really well. It's a hard time of year and training's been particularly tough. One of the reasons for our success last year was the work of Craig White, John Dams and Ollie Richardson and the guys in the conditioning department. They've been fantastic again and the boys are in good shape and looking forward to the games that are coming up now."

The summer has seen a number of new faces join the Tigers set-up, while the presence of the World Cup during the opening part of the new season should offer the younger players an opportunity to demonstrate their worth.

"We've brought a lot of new players in and the World Cup guys are away at the minute, but we've been to Poland, worked extremely hard and got to know each other pretty well. The new guys have settled in well and I'm confident that we'll be there or thereabouts after the first six games when the World Cup is on. It's a massive opportunity for a lot of the young lads to step up."

If his new club colleagues have made an immediate impression, then it is Goode who has most certainly been setting a positive example. The club's leading points-scorer for the past four seasons worked hard on his fitness ahead of last year's double-winning campaign, and those efforts have continued afresh this time around.

"The weight's stayed off - I didn't put it back on over the summer! Craig White's had a massive influence on me over the last year since he's been here. That's continued during the pre-season. I'm working hard and I'm fitter and fresher than I've ever been. I'm looking forward to the new season and hopefully we'll have as good a season as we had last year, if not even better."