Leicester Tigers lock Calum Green has urged his side to be more ‘streetwise’ after defeat to league champions Saracens on Sunday.
And, after running out as captain of his childhood club at Welford Road, the 29-year-old cut a frustrated – but considered – figure following the final whistle.
“We can talk as much as we want, but we need to be better,” the second-rower said.
“The work rate and the commitment from the boys was very good; we just need to be a little bit smarter about playing in the right areas of the pitch.
“Saracens are very smart at what they do, they exit very well, they build pressure and they turn it into points, and that’s why they’re one of the top teams in the world.
“We’ve got a lot of lessons to learn.”
But, despite clear disappointment at the result, Green assured that the squad have made strides over the summer – and will continue to improve.
“We’re at the start of a journey,” he added.
“Last season wasn’t a good year for the club, but you don’t just flick a switch and become a top team. You have to build that.
“We’ll keep working hard and we’ll keep on analysing ourselves and I believe that we will turn the corner.
“We’re trying to [improve] in the right way, and we’re doing it with people who care about the club.
“I can guarantee you that the boys in that changing room are all hurting because they care about the club, and to me that means a lot.
“We will get better, we will become smarter in the way that we’re playing, but it’s going to take time. We don’t want to shy away from that.”
Sunday’s match marked the first time that Green had led out Leicester in the league, after skippering the senior side in the Premiership Rugby Cup earlier this season.
Not a man for personal accolades, the Tigers Academy graduate played down the milestone.
He concluded: “This club is something I hold in my heart, and running out as captain was a special moment.
“I’m sure I’ll look back in years to come and it’ll be an important day, but right now I’m hurting.”