Tom Hardwick chats about the return to training at Oval Park, why he's excited about getting back to action on the pitch for Leicester Tigers and why he's excited about continuing to learn from George Ford, as well as much more in his first interview since arriving back from lock-down.
Tigers back Tom Hardwick is hopeful of picking up where he left off, when the side return to action in the coming months, after making positive progress in his Leicester career throughout the early stages of the 2019/20 campaign.
“The learnings were really big for me this season on the pitch and will be big for me going forward, as well as the opportunity to work with someone like George [Ford] and play alongside him"
The Tigers Academy graduate, who made more than half of his 30 senior appearances in the senior side during the current campaign before the season was postponed, after debuting back in 2017, believes he was “starting to show” what he can bring to the team after a consistent run of games.
“I felt like I was starting to show what I can do for the team before the season stopped after getting some good minutes in the senior team,” said Hardwick.
“It has been a good few years since I came up from the Academy and now I have had the time in the senior squad, I want to get more time in the side and get the opportunities to show what I can do.”
As well as his own experiences, Hardwick has also been able to watch one of the game’s best – in George Ford – up close, while playing alongside the international fly-half in the green, red and white.
“The learnings were really big for me this season on the pitch and will be big for me going forward, as well as the opportunity to work with someone like George [Ford] and play alongside him,” added Hardwick.
“I am looking forward to getting back on the pitch and playing my part for the team.”
The 21-year-old returned to training a fortnight ago alongside his Tigers team-mates for Phase One, which Hardwick says has been an enjoyable, albeit tough reintroduction.
“The sessions have been tough, especially in the heat, but after so long of training alone, it is good to be back doing it alongside team mates,” he said.
“We have been running and lifting, it’s very much like a pre-season programme and feels that way this time of the year.”
Premiership Rugby has proposed a return date for mid-August, which the Tigers midfielder says has been an added positive, as a target to aim for, and the atmosphere at Oval Park.
“The date is good to have to aim for and helps us build the sessions and add in the training we need to be doing before we get back to playing again,” Hardwick said.
And, after three months of backyard training by themselves, being back together – slogging it out in the summer sun – has meant there is a “buzz” in Tigers Town.
“Everyone has thrown themselves into the training and is working hard in the tough conditions,” he said.
“I think the boys are just happy to be back together after so long training alone at home, so there is a real buzz around the training ground.”