'A very good team, a star-studded team and a very expensive one': What Leicester make of cup final opponents Montpellier
Steve Borthwick is hopeful Leicester follow in the footsteps of the city’s football team by clinching silverware in London – but admitted they are massive underdogs for Friday’s European Challenge Cup final with Montpellier.
Last Saturday it was Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester who claimed FA Cup glory at Wembley and Borthwick now wants his Tigers to keep the feel-good factor in the area going with victory in Europe’s second-tier tournament in front of 10,000 spectators at Twickenham.
He said: “Congratulations to Leicester City on winning the cup last week, it was brilliant to see. After we finished our game with Harlequins, we managed to catch the end of it on the TV in the groundsman room.
“We were very happy to see them win and the passion for both the rugby team and football team here is immense. Now cricket is underway and as the weather improves you will see the same for the cricket team I’m sure.”
Following consecutive eleventh-place finishes in the last two Gallagher Premiership seasons, Borthwick’s arrival this term has shifted momentum at Mattioli Woods Welford Road. The Tigers are on course to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup but in Montpellier take on a side who had won eight games in a row before a changed XV lost to Stade Francais last weekend.
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“We know we are up against a very good team, a star-studded team and a very expensive one,” Borthwick added. “We go into Friday night as huge underdogs, don’t we? We are going up against a team that is on an incredible run, they are packed with internationals throughout the team and so we go into this as massive underdogs.
“What can we control there? Just how hard we work, the plan and the preparation we do so that is what we will focus on. We go into every game wanting to win. From our point of view, we just need to keep moving our performance level forward and that is what we have consistently tried to do. We know we need to that again this week to get what we want because they are an excellent team so we will have to be at our best.”
A boost for Leicester will be the backing they will receive at Twickenham with a sizeable amount of those in attendance for the Challenge Cup final expected to be fans from the club. It will also be the first chance Borthwick has had to see them since his appointment last year.
“For everyone, it has been a challenging period. We know that over the last year,” the 41-year-old admitted. “We have been fortunate and privileged to do what we do in our jobs and now our supporters who have followed by different methods have the opportunity to cheer on their team, so I’m delighted for them and really looking forward to seeing them in person.”
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