"I'm really looking forward to it and I can't wait for the game to start," says Hickie. "I've finally got my chance and I'm determined to make the most of it. I've been quite happy with my form for the development side but there's always room for improvement. Those games tend to be quite open and that's a style of rugby I find enjoyable. When it comes to the match against London Irish on Saturday, I want to make sure I get my set-piece right and then I'll try to get round the park as much as I can."
Hickie has found himself sitting behind two of the game's form hookers, with George Chuter cementing his place in the starting line-up with some commanding performances and James Buckland impressing for England Saxons in the Churchill Cup. Despite the obvious frustration, it's not something which has affected the Irishman's attitude as he looks to make an impact of his own.
"I knew I wasn't going to be given a start straight away, so I always believed I would have to earn it. I'm obviously aware that George is away with England, but I'll take my chance whenever I can and however it comes my way. I've always wanted to challenge myself against the best and there's no better place to do that than at Tigers. Now I've gained a first team start, I'm determined to show the fans, players and coaches what I can do.2
The match holds even greater significance for Hickie, as he had a brief spell with the Exiles prior to the 2005/06 season, having also received interest from London Wasps before eventually moving to Sixways.
"I spent a little bit of time with London Irish at the beginning of last season, so I know a few of the lads quite well. As we've got a large Irish contingent here at Tigers, we all tend to know the Irish lads there very well anyway, so that's adds a bit of extra spice."
With his knowledge of the London Irish set-up, Hickie is acutely aware of the threat Brian Smith's men pose up front. He knows that he and his fellow forwards will have to be on form if they are stop Irish from gaining valuable possession.
"They've got a very impressive lineout and Bob Casey is a very formidable jumper. Irish have a good, big, mobile pack so we'll need to take it to them from the very start. We'll be looking to move them about and turn them around so that we can create holes for our backs to exploit. Hopefully, we can provide the platform for an important win."