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Rugby News

Borthwick preparing for dangerous Bath

Steve Borthwick will be without several of his senior squad members come Friday night when Leicester Tigers welcome Bath Rugby to Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

An almost-dozen of Borthwick’s players are part of international squads this autumn, including a handful with England, a pair of Pumas and Springboks, and lone Scotsman and Tongan.

"Northampton pulled us around last weekend, which hurt us, and Bath are capable of that, which we will need to be able to cope with much better than we did against Saints"

Steve Borthwick

Half of those are certain to miss the Round 8 fixture with Leicester’s long-time rivals under lights on Friday evening, with national team selection to dictate who Tigers will be able to include in the matchday squad.

However, while the conversations on message boards and news feeds may be about who is missing, Borthwick’s focus remains - as always - on what’s in front of him.

“My focus is on the players who are here at Leicester Tigers and preparing the squad for Bath on Friday night,” said Borthwick.

“I want all of my players to strive to play international rugby and reach the highest heights in the game, so to have as many players as we do in international squads this autumn is fantastic for them and recognition for their efforts for this club.

“We will watch and cheer on those Tigers players playing international rugby, representing our club, but what we are focusing on here-and-now is being ready for a tough fixture on Friday night.”

Speaking about Friday’s opponents, Borthwick said: “You could see last weekend, they created plenty of opportunities and the number of line-breaks they make is up there with the best in the league.”

“Bath are a dangerous team and the way they attack, the way they move the ball is incredible.

“You can see the quality of player they have as well with the likes of Jonathan Joseph, Ruaridh McConnochie, Semesa Rokoduguni and young guys like Tom de Glanville making their mark.

“Northampton pulled us around last weekend, which hurt us, and Bath are capable of that, which we will need to be able to cope with much better than we did against Saints.”

While Borthwick is unable to include several senior members of his squad, he will be calling on some of the fresh faced Tigers youngsters to step up with added responsibilities in their absence.

Ollie Chessum

One such player, who packed down in the back row last weekend alongside two of those away for the autumn, is Ollie Chessum.

Chessum, still only 21 years old and 13 games into his senior career, is embracing the challenge of taking on more responsibility after soaking up all he can from the likes of Jasper Wiese and Marco van Staden so far this season.

“I’ve learned massive amounts from them both,” said Chessum.

“They bring standards and expectations to this club which I want to emulate, I want to match that.”

The versatile forward, who can play in the second or back-row, also believes that on top of the standards set by internationals, it is a shared “mindset” to fight - for one another and for a place - that is driving the squad.

“Everyone has that same mindset, to just work hard and train hard,” added Chessum.

“We all want to play, every chance we get, so we are competing for a spot in everything we do.”

However, while competition for places is growing wider, the squad itself is getting tighter according to Chessum.

“There is absolutely no hierarchy in that sense, the group is on the same wave length and working together,” Chessum said.

“We don’t just want to play like a team, we want to act like a team and every player, coach wants to move this club forward.”

Leicester Tigers host Bath Rugby on Friday, November 5 (7.45pm) in Round 8 of the 21/22 Gallagher Premiership season at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.