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Smith excited for challenge of coaching Tigers Sevens side

Leicester veteran Matt Smith will take charge of a young Tigers Sevens side on Sunday afternoon at Bury St Edmunds in the GK IPA 7s.

The experienced Tigers outside back, who made his 226th appearance for the club against Bristol at Welford Road in Round 20, will be joined in the management team by club legend Dusty Hare.

The 33-year-old started last weekend's clash with the Bears at outside centre and is expected to line up in the Tigers midfield against Harlequins on Friday evening at Twickenham Stoop, before enjoying a Saturday off ahead of moving from the pitch to pitch-side for the Sevens tournament on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking ahead of the tournament, Smith admitted that shortened form of the game wasn't something he saw himself as a 'specialist' in but that he is 'looking forward' to the opportunity for his own development - as well as the chance to work alongside Hare.

"I'm not a Sevens specialist, not by any stretch, but it's a good squad and I am looking forward to taking them to the tournament on Sunday," the 33-year-old said.

"It will be a great experience for me as a coach and to have someone like Dusty Hare to do it alongside is a big opportunity and one I'm excited about.

"We're going to Bury St Edmunds with every intention of enjoying ourselves, using the tournament and fixtures to improve the young players involved and - like any time we wear a Tigers shirt on the pitch - to get some wins!"

Smith has shared his playing commitments this season with a role in the club's Academy coaching staff, helping to guide the Tigers youngsters to a second straight Under-18 League title, which he believes will assist not only in having already worked with many of the players expected to be named but also in his and the club's next generation of talent's development.

"I'm fortunate that I know the squad well, having coached several of them in the Tigers Academy this season and playing alongside the rest for a little while now in the senior squad," Smith said.

"We obviously enjoyed some success as well and there are a lot of talented kids coming through the ranks at the club, which is exciting.

"There's a really good mix of not only young and older guys, but also some really mobile and skillful forwards and exciting, fast backs to pick from for Sunday's games."

One player Smith confirmed would be involved on Sunday at Bury St Edmunds, as captain no less, is Tigers and England U20s fly-half Tom Hardwick.

"Tom is a skillful player, who has developed a lot with his time in senior rugby since coming out of the Academy set up, but has a lot of improvement left in him and chances to lead and manage a team like this - even in Sevens - is great for him and his development," Smith said of Hardwick.

The Tigers centre also explained the coaching roles have given him a new appreciation for the game and has been a journey he has enjoyed.

"I really enjoyed my first taste of coaching through a whole campaign through the U18 League season," said Smith.

"It gives you a new perspective on the game and although it's pretty different to when I made my way up through the club, the passion of the youngsters to want to be a Tigers player and wear the shirt is encouraging."