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Harrison: “Crystal clear on how we want to play”

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Greater clarity on Tigers’ approach to rugby has been ‘huge’ for the Leicester squad, according to scrum-half Sam Harrison.

The 29-year-old made his first appearance of the new season in Round 2 of the Premiership Rugby Cup last Friday, with a start against Exeter Chiefs at Welford Road.

For Harrison, the bonus-point victory was just a glimpse of what’s possible with this group of players come the start of the Gallagher Premiership later in the month.

“We know our systems, and I think having such a long pre-season – with Mike Ford doing the attack and Phil Blake doing the defence, with Geordie overseeing all of that – has really instilled a lot of clarity,” he explained.

“We tended to be winning the collisions [against Exeter]. The impact that has on me as the scrum-half, and then our backline, is huge.

“Geordie has recruited well and we’ve got a bit of physicality about us. Exeter weren’t at full strength, but the physicality us backs had to play behind was great.”

Given the strong performance of a Tigers forward pack featuring new arrival Hanro Liebenberg and returning lock Calum Green last time out, Harrison was quick to point to where the advantage came from.

“The pack is, and always will be, huge for Tigers,” he said. “So far, they’re providing good ball for us backs through both set-piece and open play.

“For us backs, what we’re big on is playing smart. If something isn’t on out of our own half, we’re not going to just run from anywhere.

“Then again, if those opportunities do come about in our own 22, we’re not afraid to go wide.

“We did that a few times, and got the rewards. I think that’s probably a little bit of the blueprint of what we want to get to.”

With the Rugby World Cup now well underway in Japan, domestic rugby has been forced to rethink its calendar for the start of the season. An opening block of four Cup fixtures will be followed by the start of the Gallagher Premiership season in a fortnight.

And Tigers Academy graduate Harrison, who marked his 170th appearance in Leicester colours in last week’s match, was keen to pick out players on the other end of the experience spectrum when asked to look ahead to the next set of games.

He added: “The young players coming through, I think they’ve now got clarity of the way we want to play.

“Last year they got their opportunities, and they’re great players, but they probably weren’t quite up to speed with how we wanted to play because we were under so much pressure.

“Now that we’ve had this 12-week block of training, it’s crystal clear on how we want to play, and those young lads have got the confidence to go out and execute our game plan,

“I see those young lads as being the backbone of our team – especially in this World Cup period. They’re huge for us.”

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