Steve Borthwick previews the Gallagher Premiership game against Worcester Warriors at Mattioli Woods Welford Road - the first in more than a month at home for Leicester Tigers after three successive away fixtures.
It has been a busier week than usual in Tigers Town, with the club announcing renewals for seven members of the senior squad and having the depth of the playing group tested with five players away with England ahead of their Six Nations opener.
Looking back on the contract news, Borthwick said: “I think there is a broad cross-section of players, by position, by background and by age but mainly it is a young group there.”
“We are a pretty young squad, I think the average age is around 25 this season.
“The growth of those young players has been excellent and I am delighted to be able to work with them.”
Discussing the ongoing job of re-shaping the Tigers squad, Borthwick said strides were being made but the hard work must continue to further improve the young group.
“We are still learning, still growing as a group, there is a lot more work to do … we are still playing catch-up and need to maximise every opportunity to improve,” he said.
“The players put in all the work and what we want is good players and good people, then it is our job as coaches to coach them as well as we can.”
One of the seven players to recommit to the club was Hanro Liebenberg, who captains the side on Saturday afternoon after making a return to action away to Sale last weekend.
Liebenberg will make his first starting appearance for Leicester since the club’s defeat of Harlequins at home on the opening weekend of December, more than two months ago.
Speaking about Liebenberg, Borthwick said: “He was our Player of the Year last year and when he has played this year he has been brilliant, while continuing to play a big part at the training ground and off the field.”
“Hanro is a leader within our squad and someone who everyone looks up to and learns from.
“Unfortunately, he had a couple of spells not being able to play but it was brilliant to see him back on the pitch last weekend.
“He is a talented player, very athletic and tough, and his versatility is a great asset … capable of playing across the back-row.”
Previewing Saturday’s game against Worcester, Borthwick said the Leicester squad were aware of the challenge presented by a reinvigorated Warriors side under the leadership of Steve Diamond.
"Worcester have got good some very good carriers, pace out wide and have an experienced coach in charge in Steve Diamond,” said Borthwick.
"He has seen it, he has done it and I think, as expected, we are starting to see a bit of Steve’s imprint on the side and they way they go about things.
"There is no doubt he will continue building what he wants to build there and they will continue to improve."
Speaking about the return home after three away games in a row, and a cancelled home fixture against Bordeaux Bègles in Europe, he admitted it was pleasing to be back at Tigers HQ together with all of Leicester’s supporters.
"We are pleased to be able to be back at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday,” said the Tigers boss.
"While it is a privilege for us to get the support we do when we are away from home, and have enjoyed incredible support during the past month on the road, it is always fantastic to be back at our home with all of our supporters.”
See this week’s Team News HERE ahead of Saturday’s match at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.