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Rugby News

Reaction: McKellar on Cup opener

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Dan McKellar described his side’s 50-6 Premiership Rugby Cup victory over Caldy RFC as a game of two halves.

The Leicester Tigers Head Coach was pleased with most of what he saw in the first competitive fixture for the club in the 23/24 campaign but admitted it was the second half, when six of the eight tries were scored, that was most impressive.

“I thought there some real positives to take from today for us,” he said after the game.

“But, ill-discipline and not exiting well in the first half put us under pressure and, credit where credit is due, so did Caldy. We probably didn’t respect the opposition as much as we needed to in that period.

“With that being said, the 40-80 minute period was much, much better; the players responded and reacted well which was great in the second half.

“We needed to be more direct and patient, which we were, and that was complimented with discipline to get the result in the end in the manner in which we did.”

Six players made their debut appearances in Tigers colours in the Cup win, one of which was Ollie Hassell-Collins who was voted Fans’ Favourite via the Tigers App after a stellar display on the left wing.

Asked about OHC, McKellar said: “Ollie was brilliant in his first game for the club.”

“I thought all our debutants were great and was great to see them get that first opportunity to play for the club.”

“Ollie will be an important player for the club moving forward, that’s for certain. The challenge for us as coaches is to get that ball in his hands as much as possible.”

Nic Dolly captained the side in sweltering conditions on Saturday afternoon and McKellar explained his decision to name the front-rower as the leader following the game.

“Nic has been great, since day one of the pre-season and great all week in the captaincy role,” said the Tigers Head Coach.

“He leads through his actions, that’s the type of person and player that he is. Players listen when he talks, definitely, but importantly he leads through his actions.

“Nic works hard, he’s diligent in his training and preparation - the ultimate professional. I am sure today is a proud day for him and I am proud to see him do it so well.”

More than 13,000 tickets were sold for the game and the new coach was impressed from what he saw of a modest Tigers Family crowd.

“I already love coming here for game days,” McKellar said.

“The opportunity to be a part of games here at Mattioli Woods Welford Road was a big part of why I came here, as I have said since the day I signed on to be Head Coach. It has not disappointed.

“The supporters are so passionate, so supportive and make this - in my opinion - the best club ground in the world to play.

“It’s exciting for me to know we will get this privilege week after week this season.”

Looking ahead, McKellar said the strategy of rotating the group would continue in the coming Cup weeks as the season progresses towards the opening league game.

“We will keep giving opportunities and selecting the best sides we believe for the game at the weekend,” he said.

“Almost every player has had a chance to get a run out now in the past two weeks and that’s important as we continue to work towards that first Premiership game.

“Young players need to play games, all players need to play games - new to us this season or not - and so it is good to see them all out there and getting the experience of putting the shirt on.”