Splitting time between Leicester Tigers’ Oval Park training base and playing for Loughborough Students is only improving Keston Lines’ game, according to the development front-rower.
The 19-year-old loosehead made his senior Tigers debut away to Worcester in Round 1 of this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup, and has also been gaining valuable game-time on loan at Loughborough Students in National League 2 North.
“You always improve when you’re playing games,” Lines explains. “You learn a lot faster.
“The main thing is looking back at your games with the coaches to see what you need to work on.”
Lines, now in his second year in the Tigers development squad, is just one of a number of players training with the senior squad in the week and running out for his loan club on the weekend.
Second-rower Tom Manz and winger Joe Browning joined Lines in the starting XV for Loughborough’s latest fixture against Caldy last Saturday, while development back-rowers Taylor Gough and Thom Smith have also had run-outs with the Students.
For Lines, the familiar faces have helped him keep focus on the matters on the pitch.
“When you get to training you always know a few boys,” he continues. “Plus, we can lift share and stuff like that – which helps out with that side of things.
“The Tigers coaches manage it all really well so, for example, if we’re training at Loughborough in the evening, we won’t do a double day here [at Oval Park].
“It means you’re never too tired. I think I’ve gone well [so far], but it’s about getting out there onto the pitch and keeping learning.
“They’ve spoken to us all and said that whenever we’re playing at our loan clubs they want us to be the best players on the pitch, so that’s what we go out there and try to do.”
The highlight of the Students’ season so far was the 41-7 drubbing of Hinckley RFC earlier in September, with close matches away to Chester and at home against Caldy keeping Loughborough in the mix in a competitive mid-table battle.
And Lines says that performing well in a purple shirt is just another way to build his game – while also learning one-on-one from Tigers’ seasoned internationals like fellow front-rower Tatafu Polota-Nau.
He added: “I worked on some set-up stuff for the scrums with Taf, and he has been giving me a few tips on how to feel a bit more comfortable.
“Those senior boys are really helpful – it’s like having another coach.”
Loughborough travel to Sheffield Tigers for their next fixture this Saturday, October 5.