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Rugby News

Pre-Season Match Reaction: Dan McKellar

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Dan McKellar admitted it was a "rusty" showing from his side in the first outing of the 23/24 campaign on Friday night when Leicester Tigers defeated Nottingham 36-19 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

Speaking after the match, which was the first for the Head Coach at home, McKellar was positive but realistic in his appraisal of the performance. 

"Firstly, it was great to be here at Mattioli Woods Welford Road for the first time on game day for us as a group."

"I know it was far from full but to still have almost 10,000 people in for a pre-season game is enormous and was a brilliant atmosphere.

"We all can't wait to have this place packed throughout the season."

Delving further into the match, which saw 30 players used by McKellar, he added: "The performance was pretty much what I expected in that it was a bit rusty, which is normal, and we used 30 players tonight across the two halves."

"We started with a pretty experienced side and then added some younger, less experienced players in the second half to finish the game.

"Plenty of positives, a lot to take away to be happy about, but things to keep working on as well.

"We blew the cobwebs out tonight, which was important, and just want to keep seeing transfer from what we are doing on the training pitch to matches."

On the identity of the side on show for the first time, McKellar said it was about building on what Leicester's foundations are about.

"I've spoken about the Tigers DNA at length; the set piece is a big part of that, physicality through our forward play," added McKellar.

"We saw that tonight but, that isn't all of what we are. We want to add to our game, we don't want to be one-trick ponies and so we are working hard on the attack but won't go away from what we know we do well."

Looking ahead to a month of Premiership Rugby Cup before the league season commences, McKellar knows the entire available squad will be required to contribute - especially while almost a dozen players remain unavailable while on international duty or sidelined through injury.

"I think it's about 22 games in a row now for the group, so we will share the load," said the Tigers Head Coach.

"We can't roll out the same 23 guys for every one of those games, it's about everybody adding to what we are doing and pushing their claims over the next month in preparation for the start of the Premiership in a month or so from now."