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Even Tyson Fury got a mention in Freddie Burns' Leicester send-off

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andrew Kearns/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Freddie Burns has revealed he shared a Tyson Fury quote with the Leicester squad when he last addressed them on the Welford Road pitch prior to his final Tigers appearance on Saturday. The ex-England Test-level out-half is flying out to New Zealand next Thursday to take up a Super Rugby Pacific contract with the Dunedin-based Highlanders.

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That deal was announced last Monday and it added another layer to the emotion of derby day versus Northampton. The Saints eventually played farewell spoilsports, defeating the Tigers 19-18 in another helter-skelter English top-flight match, but the loss didn’t completely ruin the afternoon for Burns, who exited the fray in the 69th-minute to a standing ovation.

After going on to complete a post-game lap of honour to say goodbye to the Leicester crowd, Burns then had his final live TV interview as a Tigers player and he explained to BT Sport why champion heavyweight boxer Fury came to mind when addressing his teammates in an on-pitch, pre-game huddle.

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Asked what he spoke to them about, he said: “Just life. I saw a Tyson Fury quote that said the only thing we truly own in life is moments in time and for me, today was a moment in time and these boys and this club has given me so many of them that will cherish.

“I had a few messages in the week: I had one I got a bit upset about, a lad whose grandad passed away just after the final. When you realise you are in a job where you can give people moments and it means a lot to them.

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“Everyone talks about the drop goal (that won the 2022 Premiership final at Twickenham) but for me, the reaction to where people were and what it meant to people far outweighs the action of hitting the drop goal. I’m just proud. It’s an incredible sport. I have been fortunate to play in this league for so many years and at this club and I am going to miss it.”

Looking back on the build-up to his last hurrah in the Leicester colours, Burns added: “It has been an emotional week. Good to get the send-off from the crowd, gutted we couldn’t get the win. That’s professional rugby, it’s about fine margins, and yeah, I have got to reflect on the good times I have had at this club which have been great.

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“I’m disappointed but I won’t let it get me down. This crowd have been fantastic to me and it was great that I could get back and get one last run out. It has probably been the most challenging (preparation) trying to keep the emotions in and even in the warm-up, just trying to keep the emotions at a level when you can still perform.

“That has been the hardest thing but, like I said, we played alright, Saints deserved the win. Gutted but I’ll move on with a smile on my face. I have had some great moments. I said to the boys before, this club has given me the best moments of my life and not just the final, playing here week to week.

“In my first stint, I probably took it for granted so when I came back I just cherished every moment. There were over 25,000 here today, which was incredible for an English Premiership game, so it’s great. Yeah, I’ll miss this lot but I’ll go to pastures new and have a crack at Super Rugby.”

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