Graham Kitchener determined to make most of his chance at Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers lock Graham Kitchener is relishing the red-hot competition for places at Welford Road.
Kitchener has been out of the picture for the last couple of weeks after being named in the England Saxons squad for the recent matches against their Irish and Scottish counterparts.
But he is back in the Tigers fold this week as Leicester prepare for a huge trio of games during the remainder of this month.
London Welsh are the visitors to Welford Road tomorrow, Tigers then tackling Harlequins and Saracens in the following two weeks.
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Tigers have an abundance of quality in the second row and Kitchener knows that means the men challenging for that position cannot afford to fall below their best whenever they get the chance to play.
"With Geoff Parling away with England, there is an opportunity for me to come in and run the line-out, so I want to do it as well as I can," said Kitchener, who has so far featured in nine Premiership games for Tigers this season.
"Ed Slater played really well for the Saxons and is a top player, and the same goes for Louis Deacon, so there is always going to be competition for places, which is not a bad thing.
"If you have the shirt, then it is up to you to keep it. If you are on the bench, you want to get the chance to prove your worth."
Kitchener believes Tigers have all the qualities required to bounce back from last Sunday's defeat by Llanelli Scarlets in Wales, which brought the curtain down on their LV= Cup campaign in disappointing style. It also broke a string of nine unbeaten matches, although Kitchener does not read any significance into that.
"It won't throw us out of our stride," he said. "It was one blip. We go back to the Premiership now with four very important games coming up.
"We have been looking good in training and are ready to go tomorrow."
Kitchener anticipates a stiff challenge from Welsh, too, although he is confident that Tigers have the tools to cope with the side who won promotion last season.
"If you look at our squad, it is still quality despite the number of guys we have away," said the 23-year-old. "There are still a lot of internationals in it.
"Welsh will come to Welford Road and it will be like a cup final for them. But we are aware of what we have to do."