It looks likely that Leicester will start the defence of their Aviva Premiership crown without chief play-maker and captain Toby Flood who was stretchered off the field in Tigers’ final pre-season game,
Tigers were 30-10 winners over Ulster Rugby at Welford Road on Saturday after tries from Niall Morris, David Mele, Anthony Allen and Sebastian de Chaves.
But in the 11th minute Flood was knocked out in a collision with Ulster lock Dan Tuohy. The Irishman was shown a yellow card by referee Tim Wigglesworth, for using his forearm and elbow to fend off the fly-half’s attempted challenge. The match was stopped for about ten minutes to allow the medical team to attend to Flood, who was given oxygen and eventually stretchered off the pitch.
Tigers’ club captain was taken to hospital as a precaution.
He was replaced by new signing Ryan Lamb who now seems set to start in Leicester’s opening Aviva Premiership game at home to Worcester on Sunday.
Leicester have able replacements to fill the fly-half role but none of England international Flood’s quality. The injury will also be a concern to Leicester if it suggests a worrying trend. The stand off was also injured in the Premiership final last May when he was forced off the pitch with bruised ribs following a series of big hits from Courtney Lawes. The importance of the player to Tigers’ success appears to have made him a target for opposing teams’ hitmen and Flood will have to respond to show he can handle the physicality of the game.
It was a mixed day for Leicester’s new recruits. French scrum-half Mele impressed on his home debut, scoring a try and setting up another. All the signs are that he will provide excellent cover for Ben Youngs and, with Youngs not featuring against Ulster, may well be involved in the opening game of the season, although Youngs and fellow British and Irish Lions Test player Manu Tuilagi both took part in training.
Lock de Chaves also crossed the line for Tigers. The 22 year-old 6ft 6in South Africa forward, who weighs in at 17 stones, has impressed since joining the club over the summer from Mont-de-Marsan. De Chaves, who played for South Africa Under-20s at the 2010 Junior World Championships, is unlikely to see much match time ahead of British Lion Geoff Parling, vice captain Louis Deacon, and England Saxons lcoks Ed Slater and Graham Kitchener, but he could be a vital component during the international windows.
Jerome Schuster’s first run out at Welford Road did not go quite so well with the French prop picking up a yellow card for coming in at the side of a ruck.
Other summer signings Neil Briggs, Jamie Gibson, Ryan Lamb, Owen Williams and Tom Bristow made their home débuts from the replacements bench.
In other news
Leicester, and all the other clubs in the Aviva Premiership, should be on the end of fewer wrong refereeing decisions this season following the announcement that every Aviva Premiership Rugby match will have a Television Match Official.
Premier Rugby, which runs the Aviva Premiership, announced last Thursday that a TMO will be in place at all of the 135 Aviva Premiership rugby matches in the 2013/14 season and not just the live televised games as was previously the case.
The new investment will also means fans will be able to enjoy more comprehensive coverage on the Aviva Premiership Rugby Highlights Show on ITV with a minimum of eight cameras at all matches.