Geordan Murphy says a “tough start” to the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season will test the Leicester Tigers squad in a period when they are missing what the head coach believes could be up to 13 players on World Cup duty.
Speaking following the announcement of the season’s programme, Murphy admitted he would have preferred to start with a home game but welcomed the chance to take on Saracens in the first Welford Road fixture of the new season during Round 2.
“It never gets any easier, that is for sure, and starting away at Worcester, where we lost against them last season, is a tough start,” said Murphy.
“Look, we’d always prefer to start at home in the Premiership.
“We will be compromised and have a young squad but we have a long pre-season to prepare for that.
“I’m not sure how many people Worcester will have away, so it’s not a great time to come up against the Warriors.
“Then we back it up with the champions at home for our first fixture at Welford Road for the season.
“I suppose it’s a nice way to start the home campaign but, again, it doesn’t get any easier.”
Ahead of the Gallagher Premiership kick-off on October 18, sides will compete in the second instalment of the Premiership Rugby Cup during the final two weekends in September and first two in October.
With squads depleted as players take part in the World Cup in Japan, Murphy says the domestic Cup competition will provide a chance to give players much-needed game time at the start of the campaign.
“We’ll need to be smart about who we use and how we use them to get people game time,” he said.
This year’s World Cup will be the sixth Murphy has seen as part of the Leicester club and knows all too well the impact the tournament can have from afar.
With changes to the schedule for both domestic and Premiership competitions, as well as players unavailable for large portions of the season, the head coach says he’s hoping to see the club buck the trend in 2019.
“It always is, in my experience, in World Cup years, a bit of a scramble,” Murphy said.
“I’ve been at Tigers for five World Cups already and in any of those seasons – when you’re missing a lot of players due to international representation – we have had tough starts and had to rely on big finishes in the competition.
“We don’t want to be in that position, particularly on the back of last season, and we want to try to get some points on the board early and get ourselves in a position to create a nice base for the guys returning.”
Match tickets for the opening four home matches of the season will go on sale to season ticket holders and members requiring extra tickets for friends and family from 9.00am on Friday, August 2 before being released for general sales a week later.
Tigers season tickets are available now, including entry to all home fixtures in the Gallagher Premiership plus pool stages of the Premiership Rugby Cup and European Challenge Cup as well as a range of other benefits.
Pool fixtures in the Premiership Rugby Cup, which starts on September 21 and occupies the first four weeks of the campaign, are due to be announced next week with each club having two games at home and two away. The knockout rounds will be played in February/March.
News on fixtures in the European Challenge Cup, where Tigers have been drawn in a pool with Cardiff Blues, Pau and Calvisano Rugby, will be released next month.
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Click the link below to see Tigers’ full Gallagher Premiership fixture list.