Steve Borthwick admits Saturday’s trip south to take on Saracens is exciting for he and his Leicester Tigers squad.
The star-studded London club have included a host of internationals in their matchday squad, including eleven in the starting line-up, for the Gallagher Premiership game at their StoneX Stadium home, where they have won four of their past five league games.
Speaking about the hosts, Borthwick said: “This is an exciting challenge for us, up against a squad of their calibre and experience.
“I am certain too that the return of Mark McCall this week, which is fantastic to see, has been a big boost to the players, coaches and entire club.
“Saracens have been the benchmark in English and European rugby for some time now and, in particular this group, have achieved a lot of success together for more than a decade.”
Borthwick welcomes back some experience of his own, including England Six Nations squad trio Ollie Chessum, George Ford and Joe Heyes, as well Matías Moroni and Kini Murimurivalu after spells on the sidelines for the international duo.
But, the Tigers Head Coach is under no illusion of the gravity of the task against what he says is the best side in the league.
“You look at their squad and the depth in almost every position, it’s an incredible outfit,” he said.
“This is a team who have been at the top since 2009, which is almost thirteen seasons, and there has not been a lot of change within their group.
“They are a dozen years on this journey, we are 18 months into our own from a very, very different place.”
Tigers came from behind to record a last-gasp, one-point 13-12 win in the last meeting between the two clubs, in Round 3 of the current campaign at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, which Borthwick admits was won on heart and spirit by his side.
“I remember the game, they comprehensively outplayed us,” he said.
“We have got to have learned from that experience, absolutely, but it isn’t something we will be using too much going into Saturday’s fixture.
“It will be different line-ups, different venue and surface, conditions, it’s not going to be about comparing the two, but there will be signs as to whether or not we have learned from that game earlier this season.”
Tigers face a well-rested Saracens side after a bye round last weekend, which is nothing new to Borthwick and his players after already having come up against two clubs in the past three weeks “fresh” from the rest.
However, when asked, the Leicester boss said that’s for others to discuss.
“I don’t put the fixture list together, I just get on with the next challenge,” he said.
“People will talk about it, but that is not for us to do.
“Our focus is on improving, every day, and preparing as well as we possibly can to deliver performances that make our supporters proud.”
See the Team News for both sides HERE for the Gallagher Premiership fixture.