As England’s most successful club it’s virtually impossible for Leicester Tigers to fly under the radar, and with nine wins from ten in all competitions this season, Matt Smith admits they can’t hide any longer.
That’s particularly true after back-to-back wins over Munster in the Champions Cup, something no other team had ever done in Europe.
While Leicester have made the play-offs every year since 2004, Smith admits the last couple of years have seen Tigers fall back a little, and he believes the culture of the club is back to where it should be, not least thanks to the return of Aaron Mauger in a coaching role.
Never has that change been more evident than on Sunday during the win over Munster at Welford Road. When Kiwi centre Francis Saili pounced on a loose ball in midfield, he looked for all money to be on his way over for a breakaway try.
New signing Telusa Veainu refused to give up though and chased him down, leading to a Leicester penalty, as the Tigers showed what they were made of.
“From the start of pre-season we have been pushing the culture of the club which in the last couple of seasons hasn’t been as clear as we’d have liked,” he said.
“When you see someone like Telusa Veainu running back and getting that penalty you want to do the same for him.
“That’s the mentality we want to see at the club, and you can definitely see Aaron’s influence rubbing off on everyone.
“We’ve talked about getting better every week and not taking a backwards step. We are four from four now in Europe and looking forward to hopefully going for a home quarter-final.
“It certainly gives you a lot of confidence going forward when you go and beat a team like Munster away from home.”
Smith has been a central part in Leicester’s success so far this season, linking up with the exciting Peter Betham in midfield.
Manu Tuilagi and Jean de Villiers will come into the mix in the New Year, but while Smith enjoys the competition for places, he also believes the run of matches has done his own game a lot of good.
“Aaron has told me to go out and express myself, and getting a run of games has been great for me,” he added.
“But then again, you need strength in depth because there are always injuries over a long season, so it will be great to have those guys available.
“You want competition for places and it’s a sign we’re going in the right direction.”