If the Tigers fixture list was an advent calendar, you’d be sliding the bolts and double-locking the doors around about now.
Whoever drew up our run of games for the month of December was cruelly lacking in Christmas spirit.
In the season of goodwill to all men, though obviously not to Tigers, the fixture list has thrown up a run of crackers, beginning with Wasps away in the Aviva Premiership, then Munster twice in Europe, Saracens at home and Exeter Chiefs away. All in the space of a month.
Physically and mentally, it is a tough run and a huge set of games.
Imagine, for instance, being a front-five player looking at that run up to the new year – five massive contests to stretch your physical wellbeing and your powers of recovery. Especially so if you’ve just come through a tough autumn series in national colours.
But it also a run of games to look forward to with a chance to show that Tigers mean business.
The senior internationals are back in tow after their autumn commitments and there’s no better way to pick up from where they left off than in a series of tests like this.
Defeat at Wasps is obviously not how we wanted to set the ball rolling, though there were plenty of positives if you looked away from the scoreboard. Getting Logo Mulipola back on the field was one of them, seeing Sione Kalamafoni back in charge at the back of the scrum was important too. And we hear Manu, Luke Hamilton and Matt Toomua are not too far off a return either.
Matt O’Connor says this month will go a long way to defining the season in the two major competitions and that is just the attitude the whole squad will need as they run out for each of those challenges.
It is a run that the best teams through the years would have looked at with relish – answering the challenge being laid down week-on-week and sensing a chance to put down a benchmark for the second half of the season to follow.