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World Cup prospects all in one melting pot

Pool C is the place to be in Japan, with all nine of Leicester Tigers’ Rugby World Cup selections doing battle there.

Geordan Murphy has other things at the forefront of his mind as the club season prepares for kick-off, but he’ll have fingers crossed throughout the World Cup and will, no doubt, be doubly desperate for good news when Tigers players go toe-to-toe.

Tigers have six Englishmen, two with Tonga and new signing Tomas Lavanini with Argentina, all playing in the same first-round pool. I suppose at least if focuses the mind and the concentration on one pool at least.

Losing nine of your best players provides a challenge to Murphy and his colleagues, especially when they’re not sure of when and how their players will return, but it may be some consolation at this stage that it could have been even worse with a ‘worst-case scenario’ potentially covering for 12 or 13 players on duty elsewhere as the season get under way.

Still, Tigers forwards Dan Cole, Ellis Genge, Sione Kalamafoni and Tomas Lavanini would expect to be in close proximity in the physical confrontation areas up front while the two overseas stars will have their role to play in stopping England’s ‘Manu Plan’ while his backline colleagues aim to make the most of their own opportunities with ball in hand.

England against Argentina in the third round, with the tournament settled into its rhythm and teams closer to knowing their prospects of making the knockout stages, could be the key. And the one Geordan dreads the most.