After an injury-plagued start to his Leicester Tigers career, Miles Benjamin admits he is desperate to make the most of first-team opportunities over the festive period.
Benjamin joined the Tigers from Worcester Warriors in the summer of 2012 but was sidelined for the entirety of the 2012/13 season with a neck injury sustained in an Aviva A League game.
A knee issue restricted the winger to just four Aviva Premiership Rugby appearances in year two but he has already surpassed that total this term after finally putting his injuries behind him.
And while a starting berth is far from guaranteed with the likes of Vereniki Goneva, Blaine Scully and Adam Thompstone competing for playing time, Benjamin is keen to impress the coaching staff when the opportunity arises.
“We have a lot of very good players at the club so, for me, it’s all about taking my opportunities when they come,” he said.
“I might not play a huge amount ahead of someone like Vereniki Goneva, so I have to make the most of the game time that I do have.
“I’ve been fairly happy with the way I’m playing but the main thing is to be fully fit and playing rugby.
“I have been a bit up and down in terms of form but I’m getting more confidence coming with more game time.
“I had a lot of time on the sidelines, almost two years of my two and a half years at the club, so I’m most grateful to be playing again and hopefully I can find some good form.”
It has been a mixed start to the season for Leicester and they currently lie seventh in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table – although they are just four points off Saracens in fourth.
Finishing outside the top four would be almost unthinkable for the Welford Road side, who haven’t missed the play-offs since the 2003-04 season.
And while Benjamin says they are still aiming high, he acknowledges that other clubs have caught up to the once-dominant Tigers.
“As a club, our goal is always to get to Twickenham and be in contention to win the league at the end of the season,” added the 26-year-old.
“I think that’s what the fans and the squad expect but we are where are at the moment, which is seventh in the table, so we have to start moving up.
“The good thing is that if you can get into that top four then anything can happen in the play-offs.
“Leicester were a complete team for a very long time but it’s hard to maintain that, especially in the professional era.
“Other teams are getting just as strong and better all the time – you look at a club like Exeter who are right up there but haven’t been in the Premiership for that long.
“All teams are doing the same things in training and set-up, so it’s about trying to find that one per cent extra to get an advantage.”
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