Leicester lock Graham Kitchener is settling into a rhythm alongside veteran Brad Thorn and admits he is enjoying packing down with a legend.
Thorn – a 60-time capped All Black and World Cup winner – moved to Welford Road this summer at the age of 39 but that is proving to be no barrier.
The veteran second row has featured five times in Aviva Premiership Rugby and in all four European clashes so far this season, crossing the whitewash in the victory over French giants Toulon earlier this month.
And Kitchener, now in his fourth season with the Tigers, is beginning to form a bond with Thorn that can only benefit the club going forward.
“You can only learn from him, the amount he’s done in the game,” said the 25-year-old.
“We’ve played a lot of games together in a row and I think that sort of consistency is great. I think we complement each other well.
“His experience and the way he talks on the pitch has been great for us. He’s very calm. Everyone listens to him and respects him and respects what he says.
“He has been great for me and I get on really well with him.
“We’ve chatted about our game and the sort of stuff outside like stretching and all that sort of stuff that tries to make you a more complete player and I think it’s been really good.”
As well as seeking to help Leicester towards the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and deep into the European Rugby Champions Cup, Kitchener also has one eye on an England debut.
After being invited to Stuart Lancaster’s training camp in the autumn he was not selected for any of the Red Rose’s four Test clashes last month.
However, with the Six Nations fast-approaching and England regular Joe Launchbury sweating over his fitness as we head into 2015, Kitchener is bullish about his prospects.
“It’s very competitive. I was given a chance to train during the autumn, I didn’t play but it sort of suggests I’m getting closer,” he added.
“But we’ve got Launchbury, (Courtney) Lawes, Geoff (Parling) is coming back, obviously (Ed) Slater is out injured as well, so there are a lot of guys to come back in the mix.
“I’ve always said the key for me is playing consistently for Leicester. If I can do that, put some good performances together then I will give myself the best chance.”