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Now we're playing for keeps - Cockerill

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Richard Cockerill says he is looking forward to "playing for keeps again" with the kick-off to the new Aviva Premiership season this weekend.England’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup has delayed the start to the league season, but the 12 top-flight clubs are now finally able to get down to the real business, with Tigers heading to London Irish in Round One on Sunday.   The Tigers’ build-up reached a conclusion with a 35-17 victory over visitors Sale Sharks on Saturday in the Kings of the North tournament, with tries from backs Mathew Tait, Peter Betham, Tommy Bell and Paolo Odogwu.   “We scored four good tries, we did some good things and it was a good hit-out physically against a strong Sale side,” said Tigers director of rugby Cockerill.   “We’ve got gametime into the squad over six pre-season games, but it is never quite the same as playing in the league. We can’t wait to get playing again for keeps!   “You could say we’re happy with where we are at. We’ve had a relatively good pre-season, but everyone will say that at this stage. We need to tidy up a few things and we’ll continue to work hard. It’ll be a bit more intense now that we’re into the league again, which is good.   “The understanding of how we want to play has improved massively and the skill set is better, but there is still work to do.”   Tigers welcomed back Logovi’i Mulipola on Saturday after a knee injury which cost him a place at the World Cup, and Opeti Fonua had his first experience in a Tigers shirt after reporting back from Tonga’s squad.   England trio Dan Cole, Ben Youngs and Tom Youngs, plus Fijian centre Vereniki Goneva and Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini are also all also able to return to the club with their World Cup campaigns ending at the group stage.   “Overall we’re happy with pre-season, but Sunday is the important time to turn up,” added Cockerill.   Tigers open their home campaign in the Aviva Premiership against Harlequins on Sunday, October 25 (2pm) kick-off. Tickets are available now. Book in person in the Tigers Store at Welford Road, phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) or click here to book online any time.