Leicester Tigers yet to hit top gear, insists Julian Salvi

Leicester Tigers star Julian Salvi says Toby Flood's men are yet to hit top gear in the Aviva Premiership this season

Julian Salvi believes Leicester Tigers have yet to hit top gear this season – claiming hard graft will be the key to returning the Aviva Premiership champions to the top of their perch.

On paper, the Tigers’ 34-3 victory over Treviso in the Heineken Cup last weekend would appear to be a commanding one but skipper Toby Flood was far from glowing about the performance.

Salvi agrees, claiming the Tigers – currently third in the Aviva Premiership table – are digging their own holes, having lost to Bath Rugby this season and being forced to scramble a draw with Northampton Saints.

Injury troubles haven’t helped – Manu Tuilagi, Mathew Tait, Anthony Allen and Tom Croft are among a host of absentees at Welford Road – but Salvi refuses to use that as an excuse.

Instead, he chose to echo Flood’s comments, insisting that the Tigers must put the hard yards in, starting with Sunday’s visit to London Wasps.

“It’s a tough one to put your finger on to be honest, for whatever reason we just haven’t quite hit our straps this season, we feel like we can improve a lot,” he said.

“It was great to get the bonus point at the end against Treviso but we felt like we were making it hard work for ourselves which is not what we want to be doing.

“There are plenty of injuries but we still have some very good players here and we need to knuckle down.

“We’re pleased to sign off from the first block of European matches still very much in the hunt, getting the losing bonus point against Ulster was good for us.

“And now we return to the Premiership looking to play to our best for 80 minutes because we maybe haven’t done it for the whole game just yet.”

Salvi’s contributions to Leicester’s tenth Aviva Premiership title last season cannot be questioned – he finished the season as the player to make the most tackles as well as the player who won the most turnovers.

This season he has continued to quietly go about his business, and he’s determined to continue in the same vein against Wasps.

“I just try to make myself a nuisance when it comes to the breakdown,” he added. “That’s what I see my role as and I try to do my best for the team there.

“I probably have varying degrees of success depending on different referee’s interpretations but I was very happy with how last season went and I’m just trying to do more of the same this time around.

“Wasps will be a very tough challenge, they have some exciting backs but also some very good forwards so we will have to be on it from the off.”

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