Ollie Chessum said the whole Leicester Tigers squad has to look at every game as an opportunity to put their hand up for selection after a first outing of the season on Saturday.
Back-rower Chessum was among those who made a club debut during the restart phase of the Covid-hit 2019/20 season and the development squad forward returned to action in a fixture against Saracens at Copthall Stadium.
“It was good to get a run-out again,” said Chessum. “It’s been a little while, but it’s good to get the opportunity. Steve Borthwick talks about it being a whole squad effort and you have to be ready.
“As a player, your objective is to play for the first-team regardless of the occasion, and every game is a chance to put your hand up. Every opportunity is an opportunity to hold your hand up for the next game.”
Tigers scored three first-half tries before Sarries pulled away to a 45-24 victory with three unanswered scores in the second half.
“You can’t doubt the boys’ effort,” added Chessum. “It wasn’t effort that let us down, it’s more not sticking to the process for part of the game. We fell off a bit and Saracens took their chances.
“But then in the last five minutes there were some massive defensive sets which shows what the boys are about.”
Sarries welcomed supporters back into their home ground for the first time since Tigers’ last visit in the Gallagher Premiership back in February – with 1,000 season ticket holders admitted via a ballot – and they were warmed on a chilly afternoon by six first-half tries shared equally by the teams.
Jake Kerr, George Worth and Sam Aspland-Robinson, in his first game back since suffering an injury in the Challenge Cup fixture against Pau a year ago, claimed scores for Tigers who led 24-21 lead at half-time.
In the second half, the hosts made the most of their opportunities, adding three tries, including two from replacement scrum-half Tom Whiteley, to ensure victory.
Tigers fielded a team combining the experience of skipper Luke Wallace and lock Blake Enever with gametime opportunities for other members of the squad including young prop James Whitcombe who was playing at this level for the first time.