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Aviva Premiership 2016-2017 Preview: Leicester Tigers

Richard Cockerill’s coaching involvement at Leicester stretches back to 2005 and he has been at the heart of Leicester’s successes since, but has also overseen many disappointments at the last couple of hurdles as well during many of those years.

With former All Black Aaron Mauger coming on board as head coach there has been a change in playing direction and indeed Leicester appear to have moved away from a territory-based, forward-dominated, defence-oriented gameplan to something a little more expansive.

It’s a style that saw them make the play-offs this year, but also ended up in them being humbled 44 – 17 in the semi-final against eventual Premiership champions Saracens.

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Although Cockerill has usually been averse to signing big name foreign players, his distaste for such players seems to be waning with the acquisitions of Matt Toomua from Australia and JP Pietersen from South Africa’s Sharks. This is after former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was at the club last season.

But Leicester’s Director of Rugby has also stayed true to past transfer form by signing some of the best young English talent available. Tom Brady, George McGuigan and Ellis Genge are all highly-rated players with an enormous amount of potential, so much so that former Bristol prop Genge was plucked from obscurity by England head coach Eddie Jones to make the summer tour to Australia.

There has been considerable upheaval at Welford Road this year with a number of players retiring, being released or moving on to other clubs. Leicester have always had a sizeable squad, but the recent signings suggests that the emphasis is moving towards quality rather than quantity this time around.

BARNET, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Manu Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers limps around the pitch after hurting his hamstring with team mate Peter Betham after the Aviva Premiership semi final match between Saracens and Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park on May 21, 2016 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

With this in mind and with a number of players looking to return from injury this season – including England centre Manu Tuilagi – Leicester have a good chance to make the play-offs yet again. In fact, Leicester have made the top four of the league every season since 2004, an absolutely astounding record.

Tigers fans will hope that next season is the year they win their first league title since 2013, but they will face significant challenges from holders Saracens, runners-up Exeter and both Wasps and local rivals Northampton.

Prediction: Play-offs once again, with a chance of final glory

Players In

Matt Toomua from Brumbies
JP Pietersen from Sharks
Tom Brady from Sale Sharks
George McGuigan from Newcastle Falcons
Pat Cilliers from Montpellier
Luke Hamilton from Agen
Ellis Genge from Bristol Rugby

Players Out

Leonardo Ghiraldini to Toulouse
Tommy Bell to London Irish
Laurence Pearce to Sale Sharks
Vereniki Goneva to Newcastle Falcons
Miles Benjamin retired
Seremaia Bai retired
Sebastian De Chaves to London Irish
Michael van Vuuren to Bath Rugby
Jean de Villiers released
George Tresidder to Rotherham Titans
Jordan Crane to Bristol Rugby
Tiziano Pasquali to Benetton Treviso
Matías Agüero to Provence
Christian Loamanu to Provence
Niall Morris to Leinster

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.

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