Tigers welcomed back three of the British & Irish Lions for their first appearance of the season as well as club captain Toby Flood, brought in six other players for their first start and rotated the squad for the third round of the Aviva Premiership season.
While delighted with the five-point return and the game-time spread across the squad, director of rugby Cockerill has confirmed that Manu Tuilagi suffered a chest muscle injury in the closing stages of the game, the extent of which was still being assessed this week.
“It’s disappointing for Manu after just coming back. Until we know exactly what the damage is it is hard to tell how long he will be out. But that’s the sport, these things happen,” said Cockerill.
“We were a bit rusty and a bit disjointed with all the changes we made, but it was important to get those guys back in the mix.
“We got Ben Youngs and Toby Flood back on the field, Graham Kitchener had his first game back, we brought in Jamie Gibson and Blaine Scully, and there was more time on the field for guys like Boris Stankovich and Neil Briggs.
“We could have played a bit better but we’ll take the five points and now everybody has played some rugby.
“We know we have a tough run coming up and we have to get better.”
Kitchener enjoyed his first game since a try-scoring appearance in the Aviva Premiership Final back in May and said: “It felt like a long time since I played. It was great to be back at Welford Road and to get a run-out was ideal.
“It was a long old 80 minutes but it’s good to get the first game out of the way and hopefully it will be a bit easier on the lungs next time.”
Hooker Rob Hawkins is still ruled out after a shoulder operation, but Louis Deacon has returned to training and wing Miles Benjamin is set play in the Aviva Premiership ‘A’ League game against Gloucester at Welford Road on Monday after 12 months on the sidelines with a neck injury.