Steve Borthwick: The Leicester Tigers have rebuilt their ‘fight’ on their victory, according to Steve Borthwick

Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick
After his departure as England forwards coach, Steve Borthwick accepted the position of Leicester head coach

Steve Borthwick, head coach of Leicester Tigers, said that the team has been rebuilt from “the fight” they displayed in their defeat 22 months ago.

It was a 26-13 loss at Exeter That happened during the pandemic-interrupted 2019-20 Season in which Tigers were only spared because of Saracens’ relegation for breaching the salary cap.

Two years later, Sarries and Tigers meet in Saturday's Premiership final.

“That game leaps out. Borthwick said that he saw something to use.

“It was my very first game. We played away to the Exeter Chiefs. We were up 6-0 about 20 minutes in. Exeter scored two or three quick tries and I thought, “right, we're going to be tested here.” What's going to happen?

They could have easily turned it into 50 points fast because they are so good.

“I watched the men fight very hard. George was my favorite. [Ford] It was a great day. Although it was disappointing, I felt that we had fought.

Borthwick understood what he had and knew that they could not win that fight at Exeter.

He said, “All the tactical and technical aspects of what you want as a group are secondary to the characteristics you have as members of that team.”

“I was a new person, a new team. They didn't know much about me and I was trying my best to get to know them quickly. “I saw that we had potential to be a foundation.

Borthwick's first full campaign at Welford Road saw Tigers finish sixth in the table, 17 points behind the semi-final spots.

They made history this season by becoming the Premiership's first club to finish an entire season at the top of the table, after each round.

Borthwick won the Premiership as a player with Saracens and now says that Tigers are putting forth a final performance that “to be proud”

Borthwick said, “I want to see us be the best version of ourselves right now,”

“After this game, we'll deal whatever comes next, but I don't care about the past.

“All that we can control is where we are at the moment.” This is the theme for this week.

Analysis: “Tigers have always been in the fight”

Adam Whitty, Tigers reporter at BBC Radio Leicester

I can still remember being there for the match against Exeter in August. It was Leicester's first match since a five month Covid hiatus. Steve Borthwick is right. It was possible to see the beginnings Leicester's revival.

I think what I remember most about Leicester's coaching was that it was an early sign of the changes to come. They were much more organized, and played with purposefulness and fight. The warm-up was also something I remember – it had so much energy. Borthwick and his team were running around the field demanding more from one another, and requiring greater physical and mental fitness.

These are traits that have stuck with them and played an important part in their recovery. While they are not always brilliant, Tigers have displayed fight, gritt and determination. They have always “been there in the fight”, which has led to them winning games they did not have the right.

Borthwick's coaching team helped to create a more dynamic play style. Although they had very humble beginnings, their heartfelt and discipline provided the foundations of their success.

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