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Holford & Moreno set to impress

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Michael Holford and Alex Moreno hope to use a run of games during the autumn internationals to help state their case for further outings when Leicester Tigers' international players return.

Holford made only his second start of the season against Saracens last Sunday, but played his part in a forceful performance from the front row alongside Moreno and James Buckland. Both props retain their place for today's visit to Welford Road from London Irish.

"Saracens are known as one of the best scrummaging packs in the Premiership but I felt we more than held our own against them," Holford said. "We worked hard all week on our scrum because it was always in the front of our minds what Sarries want to do there. We knew we would be up against a tough unit but you have to balance that respect for them against not standing off too much and I felt we did that.

"We did not get much ball in the first half but we got back into it and I thought we should have won the game. We all felt James Buckland had scored right at the end but the referee didn't give it. Considering how many players we had unavailable, we went very close to winning the game and ended up being a bit unlucky.

"I can hopefully get a run of games in the international period and that means you can get some form going. Hopefully I can do that and that will maybe shove me further up the pecking order. It is a pressurised situation just trying to get into the team at a club like Tigers but hopefully I am up to the challenge and it is certainly one that I relish.

"I wasn't bothered about moving across to tighthead. I played a lot of my junior rugby at tighthead and I played for England U-21s there, so I have some experience in the position. I felt pretty comfortable with the switch and I enjoyed it. It helps to have both strings to your bow if you can play on either side of the scrum."

Coach Pat Howard was particularly pleased with the workrate of Holford and Moreno. Holford responded by saying: "I think I made quite a few tackles and I like to think that high workrate is part of my natural game. I like to do my bit in hitting the rucks and mauls hard too."

Moreno is also enjoying the opportunity to play his natural game, having missed most of the season so far after suffering a calf injury during the warm-up in the trip to Bath.

"It's great to be back involved," says Moreno. "To get injured so early on was really frustrating, especially after working so hard in pre-season. Now I'm just happy to be back in the team and I'm looking to play as well as I can."

Moreno's return was welcome news for Howard, who lost Julian White, Martin Castrogiovanni and Marcos Ayerza to international duty during November. Moreno has formed strong friendships with both new Argentinean-born props since their arrival this summer, but the Italian international is looking forward to challenging them for a regular first team spot when return. 

"Both Marcos and Martin have settled in really well and they've done brilliantly so far. We all get on well off the field as well. It's good to see them impressing and, now that I'm back, I'll be hoping to put some pressure on them when they return. I'm just focusing on playing well on Saturday though. We want to give the fans something to cheer about.
The scrum's been pretty solid but we know that it'll have to be that way again today because London Irish are strong up front."