Leicester Tigers have announced their official leaders for the fast approaching season but how well equipped are Leicester to compete with rivals in 2013/14
England fly-half Toby Flood, 28, has been confirmed as Tigers club captain,
He will be assisted by lock Louis Deacon and centre Anthony Allen as vice-captains.
Flood led Tigers during the latter part of last season, including in the Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham.
Last year the squad were led by Geordan Murphy who has retired and joined the coaching team at the club,
Leicester’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “We have a very good core of leaders within the playing squad which is very important during a long season when there are changes due to international calls, unavailability and injuries.
“Toby is a very experienced player at the top level with 57 caps for England and he is now starting his sixth season with Leicester. He is in a key position in the team, a key decision-maker and communicator, and he led the team very well at the end of last season.
“Louis Deacon and Anthony Allen will be our vice-captains. They are both experienced players with a level of responsibility in the squad and who are well respected by their colleagues.”
At first glance Cockerill’s selection of leaders appears an astute one. Flood will be more key than ever if Leicester are to be successful.
Having seen off the challenge of George Ford, who has left for Bath, the fly-half has established himself as the fulcrum to Tigers’ backs in attack.
Despite a raft of fly-half back-ups coming into the squad this summer Flood will continue to be the man Cockerill turns to on the big occasion.
Allen and Deacon are both outstanding clubmen, ingrained in the famous Leicester ethos.
Deacon’s selection comes as a slight surprise considering his lack of game time in recent years due to injury. He will also have to fight tooth and nail for a starting spot in the side which includes British and Irish Lion Geoff Parling and up-coming stars Ed Slater and Graham Kitchener, who were both named in the England Saxons squad.
However the selection of Deacon and Allen suggest Cockerill is looking for continuity through the international periods when about a dozen of his most valuable assets will be stripped away.
It will be a tough ask for Leicester to defend their Aviva Premiership crown, with their rivals making manoeuvres to usurp them.
Noisy neighbours Northampton have made the most eye catching signings of the off-season with the capture of the world’s best winger British Lion George North. He will be joined by the rock of the British Lions scrum Alex Corbisiero and one of the world’s best scrum halves, Samoan Kahn Fotuali’i.
Last season’s defeated finalists should be a tough side to beat,
As will Saracens who have added to their already impressive forward power with the capture of England international number eight Billy Vunipola and Samoan powerhouse prop James Johnston.
Harlequins will also be in the mix once again who have added Paul Doran-Jones and Heineken Cup winner Nick Kennedy to their pack.
Leicester’s strength will come from the fact that young emerging players will have matured and gained more experience. Tigers will miss the likes of Italian prop Martin Castrogiovanni, who provided Cockerill with a great option off the bench to punish tiring opposition scrums but Leicester’s front row options remain formidable.
While Tigers fans expect their annual trip to the Aviva Premiership final in May to continue they also want to see the club put together a serious assault on Europe this season.
However with the superstar squads of Toulon and Clermont to compete with that will be a tough ask.
In other news
Leicester will play Jersey on Saturday as the club continues its pre-season programme.
Jersey, who play in The Championship, will be less opposition than Tigers’ first opponents Montpelier who went on to draw with favourites for the French Top 14 title Toulon on Friday night.
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