George Ford believes his decision to stick by Leicester through the tough times can ultimately pay dividends and see the club return to the glory days of old.

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The England out-half put pen to paper this week on a contract extension at the club even though they are currently in a relegation battle following just one win in seven league games this season. 

Ford will now line out on Saturday for the eleventh place Tigers in their home encounter with fourth place Bristol hoping to finally register a second win following their November 2 Welford Road success over Gloucester. 

Leicester boss Geordan Murphy has made just two changes to his XV after last weekend’s draw against Harlequins, recalling Jordan Olowofela on the wing and Harry Wells.

In an interview on Leicester Tigers TV, Ford said: “I love this club. I have been here when I was 16. I went away for four years, played some fair amount of rugby in four years, come back and it has not been anywhere near where anyone wants it to be.

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“But if I didn’t believe that we could make these improvements, if I didn’t believe the club are making some positive changes for the good of the club, then it might have been a different story, but I actually genuinely do believe that (Leicester are improving). 

“When you speak about loyalty, I believe in sticking through the tough times a little bit and coming through the other end, and we are probably still in a tough time. But I can see improvements in our game, I can see improvements coming in the future and I believe in sticking it through and coming out the other end. 

“The options stuff [offers from rival clubs] wasn’t so much the difficult bit for me. It was the state the club is in now, where we are now in terms of the league and the way we are playing, the way we have been playing the last two or three years since I came back to the club. 

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“Because it’s obviously tough, it’s tough for everyone. It’s tough for players, tough for coaches, staff, fans. They don’t want to see the great club that it is where it is at the minute and we are still working our way out of that. 

“To be honest it is going to be small building blocks, rebuilding, little and often improvements rather than an overnight fix. That was the bit that was difficult for me because in my career I want to be successful. 

“I want to be part of a team that is challenging to win trophies. I want to keep on improving myself as a player and I want to be in an environment that does that. You have got to question that pretty heavily considering where we are and where we have been the last two, three years.”

LEICESTER (v Bristol, Saturday): 15. Telusa Veainu; 14. Jordan Olowofela, 13. Jaco Taute 12. Kyle Eastmond, 11. Jonny May; 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Ellis Genge, 2 Tom Youngs (capt), 3. Dan Cole, 4. Tomas Lavanini, 5. Calum Green, 6. Harry Wells, 7. Jordan Taufua, 8. Sione Kalamafoni. Reps: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Greg Bateman, 18. Nephi Leatigaga, 19. Guy Thompson, 20. Tommy Reffell, 21. Sam Harrison, 22. Noel Reid, 23. George Worth.  

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