Steve Borthwick shares his thoughts on the club’s most-recent outing, away to Newcastle Falcons, and discusses the return of the seven England internationals to Leicester Tigers, as well as previewing Sunday’s away game against Exeter Chiefs.
“It was a performance that I believe our supporters would have been proud to see,” said Borthwick, when asked for his summary of the eight-point defeat to Newcastle last Friday in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
“We knew it would be a challenging game, against a much more experienced Newcastle Falcons side at their home ground, but we were still disappointed to come away without the win.
“While we didn’t get the win, what we did do was see seven young men get the privilege of debuting for Leicester Tigers and saw many others get game time they have earned through hard work and effort at training.
“We are a squad, every player contributes to every performance and most of those players who represented our group on Friday night in Newcastle have helped prepare the teams which have played throughout this whole campaign.”
After welcoming seven new players to the history books, Borthwick was greeted with the return of seven familiar faces on Monday morning at the club’s Oval Park training ground after the conclusion of this season’s Six Nations.
Ollie Chessum, Nic Dolly, George Ford, Ellis Genge, Joe Heyes, Freddie Steward and Ben Youngs arrived back in Leicester this week after featuring as part of the national side’s travelling party to France for the final fixture of the 2022 Championship.
Speaking about Leicester’s England contingent, Borthwick said: “We were all incredibly proud watching each of them represent Leicester Tigers, represent their families and friends so well during the Six Nations.
“They have all come back in a great mindset, excited to contribute and try to carry this team further forward.”
The trio of Genge, Steward and Youngs last featured in this season’s league campaign eleven weeks ago, while Chessum, Dolly and Ford have had just five appearances between them in the past seven Premiership rounds.
Asked about the international window and stress on his squad, Borthwick had very little to say.
“It was a challenging period for our group, yes, and I am proud of the efforts of all the players during that period - here at the club or representing England,” he said.
“However, that is done with now and I am not going to look back and discuss what is behind us - the only focus is Exeter Chiefs on Sunday.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s return to the league, away to the club who have featured in all six of the past six Premiership Finals, the Tigers Head Coach admitted that his Leicester side were were under no illusion of the challenge awaiting them in the South West.
“Exeter are very good side, who have been the benchmark of the league for a number of years now,” said Borthwick.
“They have a brilliant squad who have not only played a lot of rugby together but also achieved a lot of success together as a group.
“They have won two Premierships, a European title and appeared in six successive Premiership Finals.”
Borthwick has given 47 debuts since his arrival in Leicester just over 18 months ago as the Tigers coach continues to re-shape the squad in his vision and this weekend comes up against Rob Baxter, who is closing in on 15 years in the top job at Chiefs.
Discussing Sunday’s opponents and their long-serving boss, Borthwick added: “Exeter have a wonderful understanding of one another, having been together under the guidance of Rob Baxter and his coaching team for many, many years now and you can see that value of that experience together in the way that they play.
“We know it will be a big challenge, against a team who will be looking to continue their recent run of good form at home.”
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