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Warm welcome back to pre-season graft

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The Lions are still trekking around New Zealand and here we are already starting the countdown to a new season.

By the time Dan Cole and the rest of the guys unpack their bags and get to sleep in their own beds again, their colleagues will have done all of the dirt-tracking, weightlifting and shuttle-running phase of their return to work and will be throwing a ball around again.

On Monday, Matt O’Connor welcomed the Tigers players back from their summer break.

Away from the rarefied world of professional rugby, it seems odd to The Tig that they’re back to work preparing for a winter sport season before the rest of us have even sorted the trunks and the sunblock for our own holidays.

Tigers will have some new faces – with the possibility of one or two more still to come – while some previously familiar ones will be missing as they set out to impress their new bosses somewhere else.

O’Connor is handling his first Tigers pre-season since 2012, having had the opportunity to check out the players, the staff and the environment in the final weeks of last season. From what he has told the media so far, he thinks the Tigers environment remains strong and now it is a case of having a gameplan which brings out the best in the players at his disposal.