The mantra of ‘making steady progress’ is coming consistently from within Tigers and if you want an illustration of the point, look no further than among the debutants in this restart phase of the season.
New additions throughout the squad appear to be developing game by game.
Don’t get me wrong, The Tig would love to have seen Nemani Nadolo’s debut ‘try’ against London Irish on the board rather than victim to TMO cancellation, and we’d all love to see a newcomer scorch the pitch on their first game in Tigers colours.
But, equally, continued progression is important.
Nadolo’s first touch in that game was accompanied by a hand-off to the face of an opponent and there were glimpses of the Fijian’s threat alongside the cameo appearance in the back row and the disallowed score.
But it was merely a first step and in the games since Nadolo has had a bigger impact – just ask Saints in general and full-back George Furbank in particular.
His game has become part of the Tigers’ game and with his reputation he doesn’t even need to touch the ball to drag defenders around the pitch and create space for others.
Harry Potter and Guy Porter arrived from the other side of the world without Nadolo’s CV and made their debuts side by side against Bath. It should not be forgotten that they were not only experiencing English professional rugby for the first time, but English club rugby at any level.
As an outside centre Porter had a lot on his plate but appears to be learning quickly and he showed up more against Gloucester, more again at Wasps and he started brightly against Saints before taking a knock.
Potter was quickly into the action as he chased the kick-off to make the first tackle of the game against Bath, he got his first try at Gloucester – reading a run in broken field from Zack Henry to arrive in support and score without breaking stride on the way to the line – and has now experienced a winning derby too.
Henry, showing his versatility as well as ability, has built on his start to steer the ship and score 20 points against Saints, with pundits noticing the way he is adjusting his more open game to suit the structure while still showing individual skills.
By their own admission, Tigers have prioritised gameplan and defensive work over attack for the restart, which may not be Matt Scott’s natural game, but The Tig senses his growth into the system in every single game too. It does no harm, either, that coach Steve Borthwick has been keen to keep combinations together.
And let’s not forget Luke Wallace who has probably had most minutes of the newcomers but has already emerged as an important option and a voice in a key position.
It is exactly the kind of progress Borthwick and his colleagues are aiming for across the group, as individuals, as a team and as a Tigers squad.