Freddie Burns insists Leicester Tigers’ elder statesmen face a fight on their hands from here on out after the youngsters showed what they are all about in recent weeks.
With Aviva Premiership Rugby taking a backseat this past month for European and LV= Cup duties, not to mention the autumn internationals kicking off, Leicester’s starlets have been given a chance to show what they can do.
And while the likes of fly-half Burns and Miles Benjamin might have shone last time out against Sale Sharks – the latter grabbing two tries as the Tigers fought back from a 13-3 half-time deficit to claim a 29-13 LV= Cup victory – a whole host of unfamiliar faces impressed.
This result made it back-to-back wins in the LV= Cup for Leicester with the youngsters squeezing past London Irish 17-16 in their opener, before similarly shining in a midweek defeat to the Barbarians.
And Burns has been so impressed that he believes Richard Cockerill now has a real selection headache as Leicester get back to Aviva Premiership Rugby business with the visit of Saracens to Welford Road on Sunday.
“I think we struggled with Sale a little bit in the first half,” Burns said. “We had a lot of young lads who had been given the opportunity to show what they can do.
“It was always going to be tough because Sale put out a strong team and came up against experienced guys in the likes of Dan Braid and David Seymour.
“But while I think it took them a little while to get into it the younger guys got a bit more confidence as the game went on and played really well.
“Sale had a strong side out and that showed in the first half and it wasn’t your typical LV= game really as they came to get a result.
“But for us to perform the way we did in the second half and get the result was great and hopefully that will give us a bit of momentum as we get back to the Premiership.
“We will have a lot of senior boys come back into the team for sure but they now know they have to perform well after the way the youngsters have performed in the past few weeks.”
It wasn’t just the youngsters who Leicester fans were pleased with against Sale as prop Dan Cole made his long-awaited return from injury off the bench, with Burns delighted to have the British & Irish Lion back in the mix.
“It was great to see Dan back out there again and it was a real lift to everyone,” Burns added.
“To see him come off the bench for the last half hour, you could hear the crowd reaction for him and they all got behind him.
“Dan is a class player so to have him fit again and back for us is great and a real boost for everyone around the place.”
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