Name: Jamie Gibson
D.o.B.: 29/7/1990 (23 years old)
Experience: 69 Pro Games (London Irish)
At 6’5” and well over 16 stones it is fair to say that Gibson is hardly from the Neil Back School of opensides. Frankly being openly sizest I doubt he can actually cut it as an openside with that height to overcome. But apparently he is to be competition not for Steve Mafi and Tom Croft at 6 but for Julian Salvi as a 7.
Gibson is not altogether a typical Tigers player having gone to super posh Marlborough School, whose fees of over £30,000 a year will be more than most Tigers fans earn in the same period. After that school of hard knocks Gibson went on to read Classics (that’s the super useful subject of ancient Greek and Latin) at University College, Oxford for the bargain price of £9,000 a year.
At least he should be able to give Richard Cockerill some posher insults to hurl at the officials.
Despite the claim he will be covering 7 I can’t help but feel Gibson will be used mostly as a utility back row sub replacing whoever is playing worst.
Name: David Mele
D.o.B.: 22/10/1985 (27 years old)
Position: Scrum Half
Experience: 141 Pro Games (Perpignan)
Mele is your typical French scrum half. Short, aggressive, prone to a bit of diving, a goal kicker and confident enough to turn his hand to fly half. Mele was an ever present for Perpignan last season slotting in at both his favoured scrum half position and at fly half. A prodigious goal kicker, including 14 drop goals (compared to Flood’s singular effort for Tigers) he doesn’t trouble the scorers with tries too often as he has only scored twice in his 141 games for the Catalan side.
Mele has come with the intention of ousting Lions scrum half Ben Youngs from the side and winning French international caps but may have to make do with scrapping against Sam Harrison for the right to warm the bench. Harrison has seen off many pretenders to his position in recent years so I wouldn’t bet against him.
Primarily Mele will be used when Youngs is on England duty and should be good enough to allow a little bit more rotation as Tigers push for trophies on three fronts this season.
Name: Neil Briggs
D.o.B.: 1/6/1985 (28 years old)
Experience: 185 games (2 Sheffield, 22 Rotherham, 122 Sale, 21 Bourgoin, 18 London Welsh)
There would have been a time when a player moving on to his 6th club by the time he was 28 would have been the butt of the old “more clubs than Tigers Woods” jokes. These days it seems to be if not exactly common certainly unremarkable. Except I am remarking on it. Well whatever.
Briggs started his career proper by playing a season at Rotherham before spending the bulk of his career to date at Sale, where he was part of their Champion side in 2006. A fall out with Mike Brewer saw a move to ProD2 with recently relegated Bourgoin, after their monetary problems he joined Lyn Jones for London Welsh’s Premiership adventure.
Briggs is coming to provide more competition to Tom Youngs as first choice hooker and will probably force Rob Hawkins, who has never quite convinced, down to third place. Like many of the current squad Briggs in the 27-28 age bracket so should be entering his prime. Almost like Cockerill has had a long term plan or something.
Name: Gonzalo Camacho
D.o.B.: 28/8/1984 (29 years old)
Experience: 77 Pro Games (21 Argentina, 30 Harlequins, 26 Exeter)
Camacho joins Tigers from Exeter Chiefs where the emergence of Cornish youngster Jack Nowell limited his opportunities last season to just 8 games. The previous season he had been a mainstay of the Exeter side as he featured 18 times.
Previous to his stint at Exeter Camacho had become a crucial part of a resurgent Quins side, leaving the summer before they won their inaugural title having played 26 times in 2010/11.
Never exactly a prolific winger Camacho has only scored 7 tries in 56 games of English Rugby; those numbers do warrant the question of what exactly do we want with a 29 year old winger who will be missing until October when we have Morris, Goneva, Thompstone, Benjamin and Hamilton as well as a plethora of academy lads available to us?
Argentina regularly pick him ahead of Horacio Agulla, who impressed us all so much, so maybe these highly paid professional coaches see something I am missing. Argentina test commitments mean Camacho will be missing until the Ulster away game at the very earliest as that is 6 days after the last game in the Rugby Championship.
Name: Blaine Scully
Position: Full Back
Experience: 12 Pro Games (USA)
Californian Scully joined the club on trial over the summer, as exclusively revealed by @LTUSM, and impressed in Tigers best ever campaign in the J.P. Morgan 7s. Scully was an ever present in the Eagles line up for the 2011 World Cup at Full Back and it seems that is the position he will fill for the Tigers.
Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Scully only took up Rugby when he enrolled at UCLA where he played for two years before transferring to Cal, which is the University of California Berkeley, for a further three years. At Cal he won two national titles and was named as an All American. All of this makes Tigers his first ever proper Rugby club! Might as well start at the top I suppose.
Scully is providing cover at full back whilst Mat Tait recovers from a summer operation and his initial deal runs until Christmas. Scully will probably get his chance in the A League and the LV Cup to press his claims for further game time.
Read Part One Here
Read Part One Here