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Brendon O’Connor: Leicester Tigers must improve for season-defining fixtures

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: during the Aviva Premiership game between Leicester Tigers and Bath Rugby at Welford Road, on September 25, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Credit: Tiger Images

Brendon O’Connor admits Leicester Tigers’ next few weeks will define their season – and the flanker is hoping his side have finally started to hit their stride just in time.

The Tigers currently sit fourth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with five wins and three losses from their first eight games.

But despite currently sitting in the play-off spots – Tigers have not missed the top four since the 2003/04 season – O’Connor and co are not happy with their form.

There were some promising signs – particularly in defence – when they took down Harlequins on Sunday.

They did not concede a try in the match for the first time this season and O’Connor was a stand-out with four turnovers in the game.

But the former Auckland Blue is adamant there is much more to come from both himself and his teammates as the league enters the pivotal Christmas period.

“You can look at it both ways, it is a bit frustrating that we are not playing to our full potential but we are grinding out the wins when we are not playing well,” he said.

“We know there is plenty left in the tank, plenty of errors for us to improve on.

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“We were really pleased from a defensive stand point against Quins – that was the first time this season we have not conceded a try.

“Before the weekend we talked about the next few weeks being pivotal for our season and we placed a lot of emphasis on defence so the Quins game was a big step in the right direction.

“If you look at the next couple of months – how well we get through them will dictate where we are in the battle for the Premiership and in Europe.

“We have massive games coming up, teams like Munster, Saracens and Exeter and how we go against them will be huge.”

O’Connor’s tally of turnovers for the season now stands at nine, enough to put him in the overall top five in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Click here for the statistical leaders in Aviva Premiership Rugby so far this season

A potential England call-up has not been forthcoming however, despite the Red Rose’s injury nightmares in the back row that has seen the likes of James Haskell, Sam Jones and O’Connor’s Tigers teammate Mike Williams all ruled out.

But while O’Connor admits he has had no contact with England, for now the focus is on the Tigers and building momentum when they travel to winless Bristol Rugby this weekend.

“Looking at Bristol, their pack will take it to us, so if we can get on top of them there then we will be in a good position,” he added.

“Obviously we have struggled a bit away from home – we have talked about that this week – so we need to make sure we take the same mindset that we have at home.

“If we can start well and get the scoreboard ticking that is key. The start is massive and from there hopefully we can create some doubt in their minds.”

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