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Why Borthwick is backing three players in their late 30s for Tigers

By PA
Steve Borthwick /PA

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Leicester boss Steve Borthwick is refusing to place an age ceiling on veteran backs Chris Ashton and Richard Wigglesworth.

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Aston and Wigglesworth have signed new contracts with the Gallagher Premiership leaders that mean they will still be performing at Mattioli Woods Welford Road at 36 and 39 respectively.

New signing Jimmy Gopperth will also be 39 when he departs Wasps for Tigers over the summer.

It is a trend seen elsewhere with Leinster’s Johnny Sexton and Sergio Parisse of Toulon excelling in European action over the weekend despite being in their late 30s.

“Training methodology has improved. I see that generally. The strength and conditioning and medical side of things are improving every year. That gives the potential for players to maintain higher standards for longer,” Borthwick said.

“Then ultimately it comes down to the drive of the player. If they don’t have that drive, then they won’t be able to. But there is definitely the potential to continue to perform at a high level.

“I’d rather not put limits on it. If these guys have the desire to play, the desire to train hard and then play well, from my point of view, why put a limit on things?”

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Last week Leicester announced the signing of England and British and Irish Lions star Anthony Watson. Watson has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury seven months ago, but he is thought to be closing in on a Bath return before the current campaign ends.

The wing or full-back joined Bath from London Irish nine years ago, made his England debut in 2014 and has gone on to win 51 caps.

Watson also toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2017 and South Africa last summer, making a total of five Test appearances.

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Joining Watson and Gopperth as Leicester newcomers will be London Irish pair Phil Cokanasiga and Olly Cracknell, plus Ireland international prop James Cronin from Biarritz.

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