Leicester Tigers aiming for blistering start at league newcomers
Centre Manu Tuilagi says Leicester Tigers need to be red-hot from day one as they begin their Aviva Premiership campaign at league new boys London Welsh tomorrow.
The Kassam Stadium in Oxford will become the 31st venue to host a game of Premiership rugby when last season's Championship winners take on England's most successful club.
There will be no shortage of determination in the Exiles camp. After a protracted battle just to reach this stage, the Welsh are everyone's tip to go straight back down next May.
A new ground, a new team and a live television audience should leave head coach Lyn Jones with little to do in his team talk, however.
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Tigers, meanwhile, have their own targets after missing out on the title at the final turn for two seasons on the trot.
Tuilagi says if they have pretensions of sorting out that recent record at Twickenham, they cannot afford a start like last season which saw them lose five out of their opening six games.
"London Welsh are going to be up for this game and so are we," he said. "This is what all of the pre-season is about – getting ready for this first game.
"They are a good side and it will be mentally and physically tough.
"You can't afford to gradually warm up as the season begins. You have to be hot from day one. We try to maintain our form every year and we are a consistent side.
"We look at one game at a time and, hopefully, that will get us there at the end of the season."
Tuilagi spent the summer on England's tour of South Africa proving he is one of the world's biggest threats in the centre of the park.
He has been working on taking his match-winning skill-set a step further this summer.
"I've been practising my kicking with Paul Burke (assistant coach)," said the 21-year-old. "I might need it one day.
"I always try to improve day by day when I train in both attack and defence.
"But I have been really trying to develop a kicking game. I don't like to complicate things too much but you may see a bit of that."
Tuilagi and Co should have too much for the Exiles, despite the occasion.
Jones has had little time to recruit a squad to compete at a level which is a huge step up from Championship rugby.
The hosts could be under tremendous pressure up front and may be forced on to the back foot in defence as the likes of Tuilagi, Toby Flood and new signing Vereniki Goneva pick holes in their backfield.
With star man Gavin Henson out injured (cheekbone), the Exiles simply do not have the firepower or experience to deal with the visitors.