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Smith relishes back row competition

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Leicester Tigers back-rower Thom Smith hopes to make the most of the ‘buzz’ around the club to break through into the first team once rugby resumes this month.

Comfortable across all three back-row positions, the 20-year-old is in the mix alongside the likes of Hanro Liebenberg, Jordan Taufua, new arrivals Cyle Brink and Luke Wallace, and fellow Tigers Academy graduate Tommy Reffell.

“[To break through] is always the goal,” Smith said. “There’s some amazing talent in the back row which is amazing to learn off, but it can also make it hard to break through.

“I know I’ve just got to keep my head down, work hard and the opportunities will come. When they do, I’ll take my shot.”

“There’s a massive buzz going on.”

Thom Smith

Like the rest of the squad – and most of the national population – Smith had to take his fitness into his own hands during the initial stages of lockdown.

He explained: “The club were good, we got sent quite a lot of S&C stuff so I had a few dumbbells and managed to get to a local park to do shuttles and stuff to keep ticking over.

“There wasn’t much else you could do – just come back in the best shape possible.

“Aled [Walters] has come in and put us through our paces. We had a few broncos which brought me back to ground level a bit – that was tough – but it’s been really good.”

Now back into the second phase of socially-distanced training at Oval Park, Smith explained how he is using every available minute to pick the brains of players and coaches.

“I’ve been constantly working with boys from last season like Hanro, Jordan Coghlan,” he said. “And Luke Wallace has come in now and he’s had 100 appearances for Harlequins so he’s fantastic to get information from and learn from.

“He likes nausing the breakdown so I’m learning a lot from him.

“The back row is a bit of everything, really. I see it as the connection between forwards and backs – you’ve got to do a bit of both.

“You’re in attack, you’re on the edge, but at the same time you’ve got a big role in defence so it’s an all-round job. I really enjoy it.

“It’s a very exciting time at the club and there’s a massive buzz and massive excitement going on that we’re definitely working in the right direction.”