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Rugby News

Tigers skipper 'glad' to be back

Tom Youngs is happy to be back, especially after what the Tigers skipper has described as a break lasting longer than he would have liked.

Youngs and the bulk of the squad returned to Oval Park in the final week of June, which was less than 40 days after the side's last outing in the 2018/19 campaign, and the 32-year-old says the five week break was long enough.

"I'm just glad to be back," Youngs said, in the skipper's typically straight-to-the-point style.

"The break was good, but I was ready to get back among the lads and get in to the training.

"It was a longer summer than I or anyone at the club wanted."

Youngs' remarks refer to an earlier than planned departure from the competition for the second-year running, which remains on the minds of each player as they build for a 'big yea' in the opening weeks of the pre-season schedule.

The captain is also pleased with what he has seen so far from those back at Tigers HQ.

"We're working hard, really hard," said the Tigers hooker.

"The focus is on building a strong base for a big year and the commitment of the lads has been brilliant ... everyone is getting in to it."

Asked if he had enjoyed the opening fortnight of what is the skipper's fourteenth pre-season, the skipper sent a question straight back in response before clarifying that the 'pain' does – eventually – become enjoyable during the gruelling summer months.

"I don't know if I enjoy pre-season training, but I don't think you're meant to?" quizzed Youngs.

"It's supposed to be hard and, after a few weeks, when you feel the progress and benefit of training, that's when you start to enjoy it and the pain becomes worthwhile."

But, do the sessions get easier?

Well known for his work ethic and fitness, is the 'older' Youngs still leading the way in a squad that has seen an injection of youth after welcoming eleven Tigers academy graduates in to it and seen eight members of the development squad promoted ahead of the new season?

"Yeah, fourteen pre-seasons ... I am not going to say I'm old, I feel really good and am still leaving some of the younger lads behind," Youngs said with a proud grin.

"Look, it doesn't get easier, that's for sure, but I think you certainly enjoy it more as you get older because you see the benefit and you probably don't take being around the lads and the club as much more granted as you do when you are younger."