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Our Sam - the homegrown Tiger for all seasons

It takes a unique character to score two pushover tries and two conversions in one game at the top-end of professional rugby. But then Sam Harrison fits the bill perfectly.

Sam has revealed that he is going to pursue other interests when he leaves Tigers after more than a decade at Welford Road.

He deserves – and will receive – a big send-off for his contribution as another in a long line of local heroes.

A product of junior rugby in Hinckley and of the John Cleveland College school team, Sam made his Tigers debut, with blond short-back-and-sides, in a European game against Treviso and anyone familiar with the work of the academy at the time knew that he looked like a future Tiger.

The Tig recalls that even then, he had a bit of an edge to him – he had done a bit of boxing as a junior – to go alongside his workrate, quiet efficiency and his natural ability in a pivotal position in the team.

And he’s has been involved in the first-team squad ever since, racking up more than 170 appearances in the same unfussy way that another homegrown star, Matt Smith, brought to the Tigers ranks over a similar period of time.

In recent seasons, when the chips have been down, Sammy has been a standard-bearer for sheer bloody-mindedness too, with the Welford Road faithful knowing he’ll be in the middle of the scrap no matter what the circumstances – or the opponent.

To highlight just one memory is harsh when he has been involved in so much, but the evening at Kingsholm during September 2016 – coincidentally the last time the Tigers won a game in Round 1 of a Premiership campaign – deserves to be remembered and retold.

Tigers scored 31 unanswered second-half points to win 38-31 at Gloucester that night and Sam was, in every sense, at the heart of the performance.

Starting at scrum-half, he latched on to a lineout drive from the pack to score a try in the comeback. Then, having moved to fly-half for the final quarter of an hour and with the scores level and the tension at its height, he added an identical try before landing the conversion with the 80 minutes already elapsed to wrap up a remarkable bonus-point win.

The sponsors’ man-of-the-match award accompanied the five league points but, just as importantly, his performance that night set a perfect example of what Sam Harrison brings to the club and what the club means to him.

It was heart-on-the-sleeve stuff, even if he looked like the coolest man on the pitch at the end. His team-mates loved the moment as much as the fans did, as they do when a player who is habitually denied the spotlight comes so much to centre stage.

The club has been built on men like Harrison, like Smith, and its place in the game over so many generations is a fitting legacy to them all.