Premiership Preview: Leicester Tigers
Last Season: 3rd
Top Tryscorer: Vereniki Goneva (7)
Top Pointscorer: Freddie Burns (153)
Last year will not be viewed as a success by Tigers fans despite an impressive league campaign, as their year was brought to a premature end by Bath in the play-offs.
It was a season built on steely defence, perhaps epitomised by their top scorer finishing on just seven tries, but that philosophy was torn to shreds by Mike Ford’s men in the semi-final as Tigers slipped to a shock 47-10 defeat. That, along with European disappointment, meant the Midlands outfit finished the year without silverware, something they will be keen to rectify in 2015/16.
The Coach: Richard Cockerill
Aptly born in Rugby, Warwickshire, 45 years ago, Cockerill has spent almost all of his life in the sport. A hard-nosed hooker who served Leicester impressively during his playing days, the former Coventry man took the Tigers’ reins in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since; winning four Premiership titles alongside a number of other trophies during a hugely successful time as Head Coach. However, another title this year would arguably be his greatest success yet.
Key Man: Logovi’i Mulipola
The very definition of a fans’ favourite. After a knee injury had forced him to withdraw from Samoa’s World Cup squad, fears of him missing the season opener were allayed when he confirmed his return to fitness this week.
The big-haired, rampaging, 20 stone prop made an immediate impact on his arrival in 2013 and has been a cornerstone of Tigers’ impressive pack ever since. After a summer without rugby, the 28-year-old will be fresh and ready to wow crowds once again this year.
Prediction: 5th, no finals rugby.
After a hard-earned top three finish last year, concerns about a drop in form were raised in the Bath demolition. Tigers will be keen to right the wrongs of last year, but it could prove to be a tough ask.
With the likes of Exeter hot on their heels in the top four, any dips will undoubtedly be exploited. Is that something they can avoid? In a Premiership as unpredictable and competitive as this, that seems unlikely, so they may well be forced to look into Europe for silverware. Odds for Title: 6/1.