My actual debut for Leicester Tigers came away in the south of France against Biarritz in August 2002 during a pre-season friendly in what was then called the Orange Cup. We won by a point and I scored.
But my first Premiership game came at Leeds a few weeks later. I got a start up there and was substituted just after half-time We went on to lose.
I made the bench against Sale soon after and then didn’t play for the rest of the season! Hardly an illustrious start to my Leicester career.
I remember the Leeds game vividly because I was rooming with Austin Healey the night before. Anyone who knows Oz is aware that he not short of the odd bit of advice here and there.
So, the night before the game, when he asked me: “Are you feeling nervous?” I thought it he was going to put my mind at ease with some words of wisdom. “Yes,” I replied. “You should be,” he said. “You are shit.”
I would have loved to say something back but I just took it. Oz was well known for his acerbic tongue and, as a young lad starting out in a team with an uncompromising ethos like the Tigers, getting stick like that was fully expected.