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Miles better at last

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There can't be many senior players who have had to wait as long as Miles Benjamin to make a Tigers debut. So top marks to the man for finally making it after his recovery from a neck injury.

Back in the days of Extras and Swifts, it was possible for players to have their patience tested in a long wait for a first-team call. Imagine, for instance, being understudy to a guy like David Matthews who had a firm grip on a place in the back row for more than 500 weekends in the 1960s and 70s.

In the modern game, though, you would start to expect a big of a hurry-up, of maybe even a push towards the exit, if you had to wait for more than a year after your arrival to actually pull on a first-team shirt.

Benjamin had a legion of fans at Worcester Warriors who wished him well when he made the switch to Tigers in the summer of 2012. He had made a big impression there as a quick, strong, physical wing with a definite eye for the tryline and The Tig was certainly not alone in thinking he could flourish in a Tigers shirt.

But one unfortunate accident later, taking a blow to the neck in making a tackle after 40 minutes of his first outing in the ‘A’ League at Northampton last autumn, and Benjamin had to spend the next 12 months watching others in action.

To add some context, Matt O’Connor never saw Miles in Tigers first-team action, and if you include the young players who have gained experience in the LV= Cup as well as senior signings, more than 20 new faces have made their first-team debuts between Benjamin’s arrival and his first senior run-out against Ulster last Friday. Two of them – Niki Goneva and Adam Thompstone – have made a massive impression in the position he was hoping to fill.

It must have been extremely difficult to try to settle in at a new club as a casualty, knowing there was so much work you couldn’t actually do during the healing and recovery process. It must try the patience of a saint.

The Tig can only begin to imagine the relief felt by Miles and the medical staff, as well as the coaching team, when he returned to action in the ‘A’ League win over Gloucester a fortnight ago.

He took four minutes to get into the action, making a tackle on the Gloucester full-back as he caught a crosskick and taking him into touch. From the lineout, the wing then darted on to an inside pass and scored next to the posts at the Clubhouse End. It must have felt like a weight off his shoulders. He played 60 minutes and must have loved every second of it.

Few Tigers have made their senior debut in surroundings like Ravenhill on a Friday night in the opening game of a European season but that is what Benjamin did last week with the squad stretched by injuries.

Defeat was not on the script for a fairytale return, but for Miles it is a start and something to build in his future in a Tigers shirt. We look forward to welcoming him as he runs out at Welford Road soon.