George Catchpole playing game of catch-up at Leicester Tigers following illness
- Credit: Archant
Illness checked George Catchpole's progress with Leicester Tigers last season – but the Norfolk youngster is determined to make up for lost time.
The 22-year-old won the Players' Player of the Season award at Leicester in 2014-15, but started just two Premiership matches during the last campaign.
'It was a really unfortunate season for me because in about November I contracted glandular fever and couldn't play rugby for three months,' the former North Walsham junior said.
'So obviously that was a real spanner in the works for me and was a real shame. I managed to get a couple of games at the end of last season, just looking ahead to this season really.
'So it was disappointing, but I'm just looking forward to this season now and putting that behind me.
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'I honestly couldn't do exercise for three months so it was really not ideal. I had to write that season off, I was still offered a new contract, though, so that was very pleasing.'
Catchpole, from St Olaves, near Great Yarmouth, just wants to get back out on the pitch.
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'Just getting as much game-time as possible really,' the former Norwich School pupil said of his main objective. 'I'm looking to be involved in the opening Premiership matches and getting regular game-time.
'Now I'm training again I've just got to keep building everything up again and getting better.
'I'm with the squad full-time this season, I've been on loan previously with Nottingham and Doncaster so it's really focused with the first team this season.'
Tigers reached nine successive Premiership finals from 2005 onwards, but have bowed out of the play-offs in the semi-finals for the past three seasons.
Defeat at eventual double winners Saracens last season followed a 19-16 home loss to Racing in the European Champions Cup semi-finals as well.
As director of rugby Richard Cockerill enters his second season with highly-rated head coach Aaron Mauger alongside him, Tigers are raising their ambitions again.
'It's just getting to those big games and executing our game-plan because the last three semi-finals we've gone into we've lost them badly and our game-plan's gone out the window a bit,' Catchpole added.
'So it's just playing our game all season, keeping it consistent and then when it gets to those big semis not losing our heads and playing with real conviction.'
Catchpole was back in Norfolk last week to help out with some coaching and meet some young players at a Tigers rugby camp at Swaffham RUFC.
'I love doing all that kind of stuff, but it doesn't seem that long ago I was at Swaffham doing rugby camps myself,' he added.
'So it's nice to go back to those things and help the boys out and have a nice day out. The kids all seemed keen so it was a really good day.'