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Graham Kitchener: Beware Leicester Tigers’ second-half surge

Leicester Tigers are historically slow starters in Aviva Premiership Rugby but this year Graham Kitchener and co are well-placed in third at the halfway mark of the regular season.

And, despite the hiccup against Sale Sharks last time out, the second row is confident that the traditional Tigers second-half surge is about to materialise.

Six points off the top two but six points clear of fifth-placed Wasps, this current run of ten consecutive Aviva Premiership Rugby games could prove vital in the final reckoning.

And Kitchener is confident Tigers have put their disappointing loss at Welford Road last time out to bed and are ready to find top gear.

“The top four is great, but the goal for us is to get a home semi-final first and foremost,” he said. 

“This is a pretty unique season with the run of games but we have known about it all season.

“It’s tough with the back-to-back nature of it and Europe thrown in and with the quality of the league as it is as well, you are looking at ten massive games in a row.

“But with the squad we have got, we know we can cope and with guys coming back from injury as well we are looking to get on a winning run.

“This league gets tougher year on year and that Sale result is testament to that. They had not won at Welford Road for a very long time.

“Overall  we are very pleased, historically Leicester have been quite slow starters and the second half of the season is always a bit better.

“But this year we are in a very good position compared to where we have been in the past, so with a few players coming back and getting more familiar with the system hopefully we can find another gear.

“Like I say, to have a home quarter-final and to be in the top three is a pretty good start.”

Kitchener missed the start of the season through injury but the former Worcester Warrior has been a near ever-present since his return.

And the second row admits he is loving life under head coach Aaron Mauger’s new expansive gameplan.

“From a personal point of view, I missed the first few games but I have played quite a bit since then,” he added.

“As a player, that’s all you can really ask for, a run of games is what you always want.

“This is a slightly new system. We have made sure we stick to what has made Leicester great – a tough forward pack with a strong set piece.

“But we are trying to find that comfort with ball in hand from forward to back – it’s something we have been working hard on and it’s about having that confidence to play from anywhere if it’s on.

“But it has freshened things up, and it suits me, I like to play with ball in hand and with a bit more freedom and with Maugs we have been given the confidence to express ourselves.”
 

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