Inside the Tigers’ Den - Lamb leaves Leicester with lack of options

Leicester Tigers fly-half Ryan Lamb. Photo: Tiger Images
Leicester Tigers fly-half Ryan Lamb. Photo: Tiger Images
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Tigers may have beaten Worcester in an enthralling tie at Sixways on Friday night but they effectively left the Warriors with just two recognised senior fly-halves after it was announced Ryan Lamb will join the vanquished team with immediate effect.

Leicester’s 23-22 win moved them into the Aviva Premiership top four on Friday night. However Harlequins’ 11-10 win over London Wasps dumped Leicester down to fifth, equal on points with the London club.

Leicester Tigers prop Boris Stankovic. Photo: Tiger Images

Leicester Tigers prop Boris Stankovic. Photo: Tiger Images

With a run of games to come against four teams in the bottom half of the league - Gloucester, London Irish, Newcastle and Exeter - the next two months is a pivotal period for Tigers’ season.

If they hope to secure a place in the top four, all four results probably need to go Leicester’s way.

However, as the score suggests, Friday’s match against the bottom of the league and winless Worcester was no walkover.

Vereniki Goneva scored two first-half tries and captain Toby Flood kicked 13 points as Tigers edged a closely-contested game.

Warriors looked like a side transformed and the lead changed hands seven times during the match.

Worcester fly-half Chris Pennell kicked 17 points, including a conversion of Josh Drauniniu’s impressive second-half try.

Only a late penalty from Flood condemned Worcester to their 13th loss of the league season.

While Leicester were far from their best, the match was a fantastic advertisement for the league, where the worst team in the Premiership can challenge the defending champions for 80 minutes.

The Warriors’ relegation now looks all but certain but that has not stopped Lamb joining their cause.

Lamb, 27, leaves Leicester after just eight months, having joined Tigers from Northampton in the summer.

The inconsistent Lamb has failed to hit it off with the defending champions. He scored just 29 points in seven appearances for the club, three from the replacements bench.

When he was most needed during the autumn internationals, when Flood was on international duty, he was unavailable after breaking his hand in a fight during an A league game with Gloucester.

Lamb said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Leicester but a lack of game-time meant that when the opportunity to join Worcester came up, I didn’t want to pass it by.

“I’ve obviously worked with Dean Ryan before at Gloucester and, after finding out what he’s building at Worcester, I was excited and wanted to be part of that journey and part of that new culture.”

During his career, Lamb has scored 932 points in 133 Premiership appearances with Gloucester, London Irish, Northampton Saints and Leicester.

He has also made 42 appearances in the Heineken Cup, scoring 302 points, including vital kicks home and away against Montpellier for Tigers earlier this year.

It seems Lamb was allowed to leave Leicester, despite having a year left on his contract, after it became apparent that Flood is no longer a part of the England coach Stuart Lancaster’s plans after he confirmed he will be moving to a French Top 14 side next season.

As a result Flood will not be used in the Six Nations.

However, considering Leicester’s woeful record with injuries this season, it does appear to be somewhat of a risk releasing Lamb, who at the start of the season was considered the obvious second choice option at fly-half for Tigers.

Now just young Welshman Owen Williams is left as cover should Flood be unavailable through injury.

Williams, 21, who joined from the Scarlets in the summer, has made a big impression since moving to the East Midlands but a club of Leicester’s magnitude should not be relying on an untested youngster in such a pivotal position.

Frenchman David Mele, who extended his contract at the club last week despite having more than a year left on his current contract, can play at stand-off but is more accustomed to playing scrum half.

With club captain Flood leaving at the end of the season, Lamb’s departure means there will likely be a total upheaval of Leicester’s fly-halves during the summer.

Gloucester number ten Freddie Burns has been widely linked with joining the club and Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has said he is a fan of the young 23-year-old Englishman. However no public move has been made.

Joining Lamb and Flood through the exit door at Welford Road this summer will be club stalwart Boris Stankovich.

The 34-year-old kiwi prop will join Newport Gwent Dragons on a two year deal after seven years with Leicester.

Stankovich has made 113 appearances for Tigers since arriving from French side Albi in the summer of 2007. While rarely first choice in Leicester’s famous front row, packed with internationals, he has been a vital component in Tigers’ winning campaigns, providing fearsome firepower in the scrum from the replacements bench.

Number eight Jordan Crane and wingers Adam Thompstone and Miles Benjamin have put pen to paper on new deals to extend their time at Leicester.