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Youngsters learn from pre-season experience

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Richard Cockerill says the pre-season period provides an opportunity for younger members of the Leicester Tigers squad to make an impression in senior rugby.Tigers kicked off the pre-season programme against Argentina’s World Cup squad on Saturday and gave a chance to a number of young players from the first-team squad, development ranks and academy, including props Riccardo Brugnara and Tiziano Pasquali, flanker Will Owen, lock Joe Maksymiw, try-scorer Paolo Odogwu and England Under-20s caps Owen Hills and Charlie Beckett.   With five more fixtures in the pre-season and nine senior players away on World Cup duty, Cockerill says the group will have more opportunities to gain experience before the Aviva Premiership season begins on October 18.   “The Argentina game was a good first hit-out, against a very good, very committed and physical side,” said Tigers director of rugby Cockerill.   “It was good to get everybody on the pitch and get some gametime. It’s really good for the young lads who came in and gained some experience in that company and they’ll be better for it.   “Those young lads will get their opportunity. A lot of them did themselves a huge amount of credit at the weekend.   “All the young lads did really well and I’m delighted for them. We need them to learn their lessons from that game.   “All those young front rows – Pasquali, Brugnara, Thacker, Owen Hills – they all came in, they are all learning against some of the best in the world there.”   Tigers now go into home-and-away fixtures against Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons in the Kings of the North – starting with a trip to the North-West on Saturday – and a home game against Loughborough University before launching the league season at London Irish in mid-October.   “A lot of those young lads will play during this period,” added Cockerill. “We want to be as well prepared as we can be but you have to have eyes on October 18 and that first league game.   “There’s a bunch of lads who have come from the academy and development group who will get some gametime. It’s a good opportunity for them.   “It’s going to be a tough season with back-to-back games right through. It is going to be a competition about the strength of the squad and managing that with injuries and everything else.”   Tigers return to Welford Road for the Kings of the North fixture against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday, September 19 – when the club also hosts Tigers In The Park activities for the whole family. Kick-off is at 3pm and tickets are available now. Click here to book online.