In his first interview since arriving in Leicester, Noel Reid discusses what he's focusing on in his first weeks and shares his first impressions of his new team-mates, Welford Road and opens up on which former Tigers helped him make the decision to resettle in the East Midlands – as well as which current member of the playing squad played tour guide on his first weekend in the city.
Noel Reid is settling in nicely to life in Leicester and impressed with what he’s seen so far since arriving a fortnight ago from his hometown of Dublin, where he has played all eight seasons of his professional rugby career to date.
It was confirmed in April that the Irish international would make the move to England for the 2019/20 season to join Tigers from Leinster, where he scored more than 100 points in 120 appearances, and admits to having felt some nerves ahead of the relocation.
But, thanks to a warm welcome from his new team-mates, Reid says he’s settled in well during his first two weeks at Oval Park.
“I’ve settled in nicely,” said Reid.
“I was a bit nervous coming over, it’s the first time I’ve moved club – having been at Leinster my whole life – so it has been a big change.
“The facilities are such a high quality … I thought Leinster’s were top class, but this is even better, I’m very happy with that.
“But, I’ve settled in well with the lads and coaching staff.”
The 29-year-old’s first impressions of the club were during a stadium tour of Welford Road with his team-mates, when the squad were given a history of the famous rugby venue and introduced to the Tigers off-field staff ahead of the upcoming season.
“Obviously it was a tough season last year for the boys, but Geordan’s vision for the club and where it should be and can get back to again - I just want to add to that and help play my part.”
During his time in Leinster, Reid never got the chance to play at the famous ground but had heard plenty about what many consider one of the premier venues and says his first look did not disappoint.
“I came over the Friday before I started on the Monday and met the guys, did a stadium tour and that settled me in,” he said.
“I’ve never played there, it’s all new to me … I was surprised how big it was, it just looked massive!
“The pitch was just re-done and looks great, it’ll be perfect for the start of the season.”
Since arriving it has been non-stop off the pitch, setting up his new life in Leicester, and equally as busy on the training paddock and in the gym as part of the gruelling pre-season schedule the lads are enduring under Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy and the club’s head of strength and conditioning Alex Martin.
“It has been a lot of hard work, as well as obviously getting to know the guys' names and that sort of stuff,” said Reid.
“I am just trying to work as hard as I can … I came in a week later than the rest of the guys and am trying to catch up.
"But, we have a long pre-season until the Cup and league start, so I am just working as hard as I can to fit in seamlessly and add my bit as I go on.”
Reid was shown the sights of Leicester over his first weekend in the city by new team-mate Ellis Genge, who he knew before arriving through former Leinster and Tigers back-rower Dom Ryan.
“Ellis [Genge] showed me around on my first weekend,” Reid said.
“Dippy [Dominic Ryan] was over here for a few years and I met Gengey through him a while back.”
Ryan also played a part in getting Reid to the club, as well as former Tiger Niall Morris after the pair shared their experiences of life at Tigers, which pushed him towards signing on the dotted line.
“When I was in talks with Leinster, I knew a few guys who had been over here in Dominic [Ryan] and Niall Morris – who told me it was a great club,” added the 29-year-old.
“There was Leo [Cullen] as well, who I didn’t ask at the start as he was my coach, but once I signed I spoke to him and he was very complimentary of the club and speaks very highly of it.”
The credit can’t all go towards former Tigers Ryan and Morris, with Reid confirming that the history and reputation of the club were major factors – as well as his fellow countryman and Leicester’s head coach Geordan Murphy.
“It was the history of the club and how big it is for me, as well as the squad of players we have here and the quality within it,” responded Reid when asked of why Tigers were the destination of choice for the Irish back.
“Obviously it was a tough season last year for the boys, but Geordan’s vision for the club and where it should be and can get back to again – I just want to add to that and help play my part in it.”
With Matt Toomua and Joe Ford both departing over the summer and George Ford expected to be unavailable for the opening month of the new season, Reid is a contender for the fly-half role in the Premiership Rugby Cup and opening rounds of the new Premiership season alongside fellow new recruit Johnny McPhillips and young-gun Tom Hardwick.
However, after spending time in both the No10 shirt and at inside centre throughout his time in Dublin, he’s not fussed where he is named in the side – as long as he’s playing.
Honestly, wherever the coach picks me – as long as I’m playing,” he said, when asked if he had a preferred position on the pitch.
“I know it’s an easy answer but I played a lot of 12 at Leinster and then 10 as well in my last few seasons too, but look, it’s wherever Geordan picks me and wants me to play.”
At fly-half or inside centre, Reid is hopeful of just playing his part in the side and – even with months to go before kick off – excited for what lays ahead.
“Look, I’m just working hard now and when the season starts hopefully we put on a few good performances early on to get the crowd going and get the supporters in to the season early with us,” Reid said, before adding: “I’m just really excited.”