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By Geoff Berkeley 01/06 Updated: 01/06 16:14
FORMER Worcester Warriors star Graham Kitchener says he has struggled to stay in a positive frame of mind during a frustrating first season at Leicester Tigers.
The 22-year-old lock has cut a sorry figure since moving to the East Midlands side from Worcester last summer.
His departure came after an impressive campaign at Warriors as the academy graduate helped Richard Hill’s side secure promotion back to the Aviva Premiership and was named in the England Saxons Churchill Cup squad.
But things took a turn for the worse at Leicester as Kitchener made just four appearances in his first four months before seeing his former teammates Matt Mullan and Miles Benjamin gain Saxons call-ups in February.
“It has been frustrating at times as I have not played as much as I would have wanted to,” Kitchener said.
“In a way I kind of expected it, with a lot of the Six Nations boys coming back and I am the new kid. But it is hard to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind sometimes.
“I said to myself when I joined Leicester that it will be a long term thing.
“It is hard to look at it like that though when guys you played with are getting picked and you are not in the squad week in week out. It was a difficult time.”
There have been a number of promising signs though for the second row to take forward into next season as he played an integral part in Tigers’ run to the LV Cup final at Sixways in March and came on in the Aviva Premiership final on Saturday. He has also been selected in Stuart Lancaster’s 42-strong touring party to South Africa next month.
“It was obviously hard to leave Worcester. It is still an important place for me,” Kitchener added. “But I have got to stick with my decision and I have got to remember I have played in a Premiership and LV Cup final.
“I feel like I have improved as a player - training with quality players day in day out - so from that perspective it was a decent season. I don’t have any regrets.”
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