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Johnno returns to salute Smith landmark

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Leicester Tigers legend Martin Johnson returned to Welford Road on Saturday to perform a very special presentation to Matt Smith.

World Cup-winning captain Johnson received a great reception from the Welford Road crowd following the final whistle of a win over London Welsh which took Tigers to the top of the Aviva Premiership as he handed over Smith’s club cap in honour of the centre’s 100th starting appearance.

Johnson was joined by club president Mike Harrison and director Peter Wheeler as the club honoured Smith’s place as the 205th player to reach this landmark and, with dad Ian ‘Dosser’ Smith, he completes the first father-and-son combination to reach 100 starts in the club’s 133-year history.

Ian, who was at Saturday’s game to witness family history in the making and joined his son on the pitch for the presentations, made his Tigers debut in 1977 as a back-rower and played in five Cup Finals during a 14-year career which brought 331 club appearances. He also enjoyed a spell on the coaching staff and now works at Oakham School.

Matt joined the club from Oakham School and made his first senior appearance against the Barbarians in March 2006. He has now totalled 129 appearances, including 100 starts and 24 tries, for the club.

Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Matt has become a very important player for us and the club has been built on people like him and his dad ‘Dosser’.

“I’ve known 'Dosser' since he coached me when I first came to the club and I remember Matt as a young lad watching the team train. He doesn’t get much of the spotlight but we know what a good player he is and today is his day.

"To become the first father and son to reach 100 starts in the history of such a great club makes it a very special and proud day for them.”