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Rugby News

Borthwick previews clash with Bears

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Steve Borthwick previews the Gallagher Premiership game against Bristol Bears at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday afternoon.

The most recent match between the sides was decided by just two points, with a try after the siren, while the last meeting in Leicester finished with only three points separating the sides on the scoreboard.

Speaking about Saturday’s opponents, Borthwick said: “Bristol have an incredible squad, full of world-class players.”

“They are incredibly dangerous with ball in hand and you can see how much they enjoy that style, playing from anywhere on the pitch.”

“Bristol have an impressive record at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in recent seasons and, it does not matter what has happened before now this season, they will be a big challenge.

“We must deliver an 80-minute performance on Saturday, a performance that our supporters can be proud of come full-time.”

The fixture is the first for Tigers in Leicester in a fortnight, with back-to-back matches in London in the past seven days, and Borthwick admitted it was pleasing to be home again.

“We are excited to be back home again and looking forward to seeing another packed, loud crowd at Mattioli Woods Welford Road,” said Borthwick.

“It has been brilliant all season to have such incredible support, home and away, and I have no doubt they Leicester Tigers crowd will be there in numbers again.

“I say it over and over again but it doesn’t have any less meaning, the support we have is not like anywhere else I have experienced in rugby.

“We are privileged to have the numbers but also the passion which Leicester Tigers fans have and, I assure you, the support makes a difference to the players on the pitch.”

Leicester may sit atop the league ladder with just three rounds to play, but the Tigers boss is adamant nobody at Oval Park is convinced the job is done.

“I believe there is still plenty of improvement in us as a team,” he said.

“I am constantly looking for ways to get better and so are the players, the coaches and the staff at Leicester Tigers.

“We have a squad of players who are always working hard to be better today than they were yesterday, so that their next game is better than their last.

“As a group, we are young. I think the average age of the teams we have had this season are around 25.

“It is not just in age but also experience together; we have not been together two years, with some players and coaches having not even finished a full season.

“There is nobody here who believes we are the finished article, we are always learning, always looking to improve.”

The match will be an ‘extra special’ one according to Borthwick, with the club paying tribute to the career of Tom Youngs.

Earlier this week, the former Tigers captain announced his retirement from professional rugby following 215 appearances and a lengthy list of achievements in green, red and white.

Youngs will lead the side out, for the final time, after being invited to do so by captain Ellis Genge and Borthwick believes the occasion will be one nobody at Mattioli Woods Welford Road will soon forget.

“The day will be extra special as we honour the contribution of Tom Youngs to Leicester Tigers and saying thank-you to a legend of our club, which I have no doubt the supporters will join us in doing,” Borthwick said.

“I worked with Tom for only a season and a half, but have seen for years how much he has given to Leicester Tigers - on and off the pitch.

“Tom continues to inspire us as a group, every day, and Saturday will be a wonderful occasion for he and his family to have 20,000 fans say thank you for all he has given to them and to us in his time as a player at Leicester Tigers.”

See the teams for the Gallagher Premiership game HERE.