The more things change at Leicester Tigers, the more they stay the same according to Sebastian de Chaves.
And the lock believes performances will only continue to improve as the players become more comfortable in the new coaching set-up.
Aaron Mauger joined Leicester over the summer as head coach while fellow New Zealander Scott Hansen came in as defence coach.
Tigers have barely missed a beat since the changes, winning their first three Aviva Premiership Rugby games this term although a 19-6 loss to Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park last weekend put something of a dampener on proceedings.
De Chaves claims the team are now playing a more expansive brand of rugby after scoring just 37 league tries last term – the second lowest in Aviva Premiership Rugby – while not forsaking their traditional focus on the set-piece.
And the 25-year-old is adamant that despite their early success, there is still plenty more to come.
“Aaron Mauger has brought in a new gameplan so we’re still getting used to each other and that will take a while with a completely new way of playing,” explained de Chaves. “We’re going to have days where it doesn’t quite work.
“The way we play and the way we attack the game is different this season. We want to play from everywhere and score from everywhere.
“Aaron has brought in a 1-15 skillset – everyone has got to be catching, passing and reading what’s in front of them.
“But in terms of the old Leicester Tigers way of playing, we still back our scrum and we still back our line-out. It hasn’t changed that much but it has in many ways.
“We’re happy with winning three from the first four although we maybe would have been a bit happier if we’d managed to get a bonus point from Sandy Park.
“Those little bonus points really matter towards the end of the season, so that would have been nice but we’re keeping a measured view of everything.”
Leicester now have a break from Aviva Premiership Rugby action as they turn their attention to the European Rugby Champions Cup.
They open up with a clash against reigning Top 14 champions Stade Francais underneath the Friday night lights at Welford Road while Munster and Benetton Treviso also lie in wait in Pool 4.
But de Chaves is confident Tigers’ ample experience at that level – they have competed in Europe’s top-tier competition for each of the past 17 seasons – will stand them in good stead.
“Stade aren’t French champions for nothing but we’ve come up against really good French sides in Europe before,” he added.
“We know what to expect – they pride themselves on the same things as us which is set-piece domination and being very physical.
“It will be a combative game but we’ve prepared well and with the crowd behind us at Welford Road, the excitement and nervousness will go up a notch.
“It’s a very tough group but there are a couple of tough pools to be fair. With Leicester Tigers’ proud history in Europe we always back ourselves to reach the knockout stages and this season we want to compete on both fronts – Europe and the Premiership.”
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