Leicester Tigers full-back Freddie Steward has pledged to keep working ‘as hard as he can’ as he attempts to pin down a place in the club’s No15 shirt.
After earning a first Premiership start in the midweek win over London Irish in August, the 19-year-old dotted down against Sale Sharks and added himself to the scoresheet again with a 50-metre penalty in last weekend’s Derby Day win over Northampton Saints.
But Steward has been keeping his feet on the ground – at least, when he’s not using his 6’5” frame to claim a high ball – under the watchful eye of head coach Steve Borthwick.
“For me, it’s just about doing what I can for the team and repaying Steve’s trust for putting me in the line-up,” he said.
“I know that I’ve just got to try and focus on the here and now and put everything into each game as it comes.
“With Steve, you’ve got to work really hard and I think that’s what a lot of the lads have been doing in training since he’s come in.
“He’s really instilled that work ethic and that effort, so the boys have been working really hard. That’s what I’ve been doing.
“I’ve just been trying to work really hard in training, doing my basics really well, and letting my training do the talking.”
Picked at 15 for three of Tigers’ last five matches in the Gallagher Premiership, Steward has been focusing on using the crucial experience to build his and the Tigers’ game.
“I’m loving every minute out there, and I just want to keep doing my job well and working hard for the team,” he continued.
“This period is a huge opportunity for us younger lads to step up and show our hand, and it’s really encouraging that the coaches are putting faith in us younger lads to step out there and do a job for the team.
“When you’re playing opposite fly-halves like Dan Biggar, if you’re out of position by just a couple of metres, he’ll hit grass and pin you back. You’re so exposed at this level that you just have to be on it, all the time.”
And the Tigers Academy graduate – who played a key role in back-to-back Under-18 League titles for the club – has drawn on the experience of Fiji internationals Nemani Nadolo and Kini Murimurivalu in recent weeks.
Steward added: “They’re two massively experienced guys and they’ve been helping me so much.
“Kini’s only been here a week but he’s taught me loads already, and to be alongside those guys we work really well together.
“When Nemani’s making breaks and getting his offloads away it’s not a bad place to be, running support lines, and Kini’s just as exciting. It’s really, really exciting for me to play alongside those guys.
“They have played Test rugby, they’ve played a lot of club rugby and they’ve had a lot of caps, so they’ve been in situations that I probably haven’t been in, and for them to pass on their knowledge about that sort of thing has been really beneficial.”