I haven't looked back since joining Leicester Tigers, says Michael Noone
New Tigers signing Michael Noone already feels at home in Leicester.
The 22-year-old, 6ft 3in back-rower was brought in by Richard Cockerill on trial when news of Craig Newby's forced retirement came through.
Having left home-town club Leinster for spells at Doncaster and Rotherham, Noone has impressed so much since arriving at Welford Road that he is already receiving rave reviews from his new boss.
The former Ireland Under-18s, 19s and 20s representative is a ball-carrying No.8 who can also play on the blindside flank.
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He is set to be handed his first start in Leicester colours at Saracens tomorrow night in the LV= Cup.
Noone, who comes from a rugby-playing family, says he has been relishing the ethos and environment associated with what he calls an "unbelievable club".
"I haven't looked back since Richard Cockerill gave me a call and asked if Leicester could have a look at me," said Noone. "I like to bring a lot of aggression and physicality to the game.
"Ball-carrying is a big role for me but, with back rowers these days, you cannot just rely on that part of your game.
"Everyone has to be a blindside, an openside and a No.8. but if you have an X-Factor in key areas, it helps.
"The lads here have been great. It's funny, but I feel more at home here than I did in Leinster during the past few years.
"Competition is seriously high but there is no point in going to a weak club if you want to be a better player.
"Strong clubs and competition makes you better.
"If you can prove yourself at Leicester, you are a half-decent player.
"I have been trying to be a sponge around people like Richard Blaze, Richard Cockerill, Julian Salvi, Jordan Crane, Thomas Waldrom and Steve Mafi, and I am trying to learn as much as I can.
"I am looking forward to playing and it's important that I kick on and take these chances.
"We may not be a full-strength Leicester side but there are a lot of boys here who are hungry for success."
If Noone earns an extended deal at Welford Road, he will be following in the footsteps of the likes of Geordan Murphy, Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings, who all had links to Leinster before making their name in Leicester colours.
"If I can follow guys like that and make a name for myself, I will be delighted," said Noone.
"Leicester is a superb club who focus on every aspect of strength and conditioning so that you can play rugby. That's the main difference here. It's an unbelievable set-up."