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Mid-term tease builds fresh anticipation

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There is only one thing likely to raise the sense of anticipation more than an intriguingly-shaped parcel under the Christmas tree, and that is knowing exactly what is hidden beneath the bright wrapping paper but being unable to touch it until the big day.

The Tig thought of this while browsing on the internet the other day and discovering it is exactly a year since Leicester Tigers announced the signing of Australia international Matt Toomua.
Now 12 months on, the gold and green wrapping is still intact, but Christmas is coming.
Signing players from the southern hemisphere is often on condition that they fulfil their home commitments first. Last season, for example, we had reached the first round of the European Cup before we saw Brendon O’Connor.
The Kiwi flanker scored a try on his debut as Tigers produced one of their best displays of the season in beating Stade Francais at Welford Road and the talk in the media immediately afterwards was of a potential England international future.
This season, with identical timing, it is Toomua. And with all due respect to Brendon, who was recommended among the top openside flankers in a country noted for the quality of its breakaway forwards, there is even more anticipation about seeing the Wallabies playmaker in a Tigers shirt. His is the kind of signing that would have raised eyebrows anywhere in European rugby.
Welcoming a player after the start of the season is not ideal in terms of preparation time and integration, but Tigers have a remarkable record of success with late arrivals in recent years. Logo Mulipola, Steve Mafi, Ed Slater and Telusa Veainu are just four who have made a massive contribution after arriving at short notice.
As rugby supporters we do not have the same opportunities as football fans whose year can revolve around two transfer windows and the anticipation of seeing new faces to bolster their team, but the arrival of a classy import like a Veainu, O’Connor or Toomua in the middle of the action is as close as we get to stretching Christmas out throughout the year.
Now that he has arrived and has started working with the Tigers, we’re picking away at the sticky tape on that parcel. It won’t be long before the paper is ripped off entirely.