Freddie Steward has been named the Young Player of the Year in the 2020/21 Leicester Tigers Supporters’ Awards.
The full-back collected the most supporter votes in an online poll after being shortlisted alongside Cameron Henderson, Joe Heyes, Dan Kelly, George Martin, Tommy Reffell and Jack Van Poortvliet.
Steward made 23 senior appearances during the 2020/21 campaign, a total bettered by only Joe Heyes (26) and Harry Wells (25) in Steve Borthwick’s squad.
Speaking about the supporters’ award, Steward said: “It is a great feeling to win this award and, most of all, I want to say thank you to the Tigers fans who voted for me.
“I think any of the guys who were nominated could have won this award, it has been a really good season for a lot of us younger guys.”
When asked about his breakthrough season, which was capped off with a place in an England’s training squad ahead of the summer series, the 20-year-old Tigers Academy graduate paid tribute to his Leicester head coach Borthwick.
“Steve has put a lot of faith in us and works really hard with us younger players to make sure we are confident in ourselves and what we have to do each day to get better,” said Steward.
“He certainly makes you believe you can do it and pushes you to get better, which I think has been a big part of the younger guys improving this season.”
Steward and his fellow nominees averaged 18 appearances for the senior team during a season which included a run to the European Challenge Cup Final and a top-six finish in the Premiership for the first time since 2018.
When asked about the season, Nortolk-born Steward pinpointed the chance to represent Leicester Tigers alongside long-time mates as his highlight.
“To play rugby with good mates is the best thing, that’s why we all play the game; we want to enjoy it with friends and be competitive,” he said.
“There is a big group of us who have played a lot of junior rugby together and we want to keep pushing each other and pushing on in the club for a long time to come.”
Looking ahead to next season, the outside-back admits the hard work has only just begun for the Leicester squad, adding: “It has been a good season but we know we have to be better again next season and in no way has the hard work stopped. We have to keep going now and improve on what we did this season as a club.”
Steward is among a group of six Leicester players who have assembled this week for a training camp with England Rugby and the Tigers Newcomer of the Year is ready to make the most of the opportunity for the benefit of himself and the club.
“I am excited for the opportunity to train with England and get that experience which will help me improve as a player,” said Steward.
“It is great that there is a group of us from Leicester Tigers as well, so we can all share in it and bring something back to the club together.”