New Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick took the embattled club into their first game of the Premiership restart, a daunting away trip against the league leaders Exeter Chiefs

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Borthwick has taken over a Leicester squad that has seen 26 players depart, including the England pair of Jonny May and Manu Tuilagi, while a pay row attracted plenty of negative headlines.

The club has been on a downward spiral in recent years running through coaches Aaron Mauger, Matt O’Connor and Geordan Murphy over the last few seasons and narrowly escaped Premiership relegation last season. In a re-shuffle, Murphy has been elevated into the Director of Rugby role with Borthwick filling his old head coaching role.

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Elliot Daly speaks to the press ahead of Bristol clash.

The former England captain has been assisting Eddie Jones with the national side coaching during that time, seeing the side reach the World Cup final last year. On his arrival at Welford Road, the coach took his players to the stands of the famous ground to give an inspired speech about turning around the club’s fortunes by re-finding the ‘DNA’ of old.

Yesterday’s clash against Exeter was the first test of Borthwick’s side mettle and whether they would respond to Borthwick’s challenge, and many Leicester fans were happy with the toughness their side showed, claimng the ‘old gnarliness’ is back under Borthwick’s influence.

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The response online was overwhelming positive by the club’s supporters, who have had little to cheer about with lifeless performances leading to more questions and off field turmoil embroiling the upper levels of management. The last time they had visited Sandy Park, Exeter had piled 52 points on them.

One fan claimed they will be pushing for ‘top six’ from their current position of 11th, only behind Saracens.

Borthwick was overall pleased with the effort of his players, calling their attitude ‘outstanding’ but stopped short of hyperbole by adding some realism by saying ‘the team isn’t in the position it is in for no reason’/

“We made mistakes and there are things to learn, but the effort and the attitude of the players was outstanding.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do because the team isn’t in the position it is in the league for no reason.”

 

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