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Leicester's Anthony Watson faces fitness race after latest injury setback

By PA
Anthony Watson (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick says that Anthony Watson is being monitored on a daily basis as the Tigers prepare to start their Gallagher Premiership title defence.

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England and British and Irish Lions star Watson joined Leicester from Bath this summer, adding considerably to Tigers’ back division resources.

He has recovered from a serious knee injury that sidelined him for 10 months, but went off early in Leicester’s recent pre-season game against Newcastle.

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“He came off 10 minutes into the game,” Borthwick said.

“He felt a tightness, a sensation in his leg, and before anything got any worse he came off as a precaution.

“He is doing really well. He is looking pretty good right now. He was out running today, and we are monitoring him daily as to how he recovers.”

Borthwick, meanwhile, confirmed that World Cup winner Handre Pollard has arrived in Leicester after being released from South Africa’s Rugby Championship squad due to a knee problem.

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“He arrived in Leicester at the end of last week,” Borthwick said, of the Springboks fly-half.

“He will be going through all the respective investigations that are necessary to ensure we get a full understanding and get him back on the field as soon as possible.”

Borthwick masterminded Leicester’s first Premiership title triumph last season for nine years, with silverware arriving in only his second season at the helm.

While key players like England internationals Ellis Genge and George Ford have now moved elsewhere, the core squad has been retained, with performers such as Pollard, Watson, Jimmy Gopperth and Olly Cracknell added to the roster.

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“We’ve added players to the squad with different strengths and we want to be able to play a game that utilises all their strengths,” Borthwick said.

“Each of those players has come in and already added to the squad, which is a really positive thing.

“The group got a taste last season of competing at the top. I think they enjoyed it and I think they want more of it. They want to keep getting better, and they see that hard work gets rewarded.

“There is a strong desire with all of them to get better. My job as a coach is to keep trying to get the best out of the squad.”

Leicester start their Premiership campaign against Exeter at Sandy Park on Saturday.

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