No sooner did Steve Borthwick arrive as the new Leicester coach did the former England assistant pack his squad off to Welford Road where he delivered an inspirational speech which he hopes will see the Tigers reverse their declining fortunes when the Gallagher Premiership restarts next month.
Leicester finished the 2018/19 season in eleventh – the position one of the great names of English rugby still currently holds amid the suspension of the 2019/20 season. They would be in danger of relegation if Saracens had not been automatically dumped at the bottom of the Premiership following their points penalty and fine for breaching the salary cap regulations.
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.
Against the backdrop of this damaging upheaval, Borthwick is bidding to restore former glories and decided to take the squad to Welford Road shortly after taking over to provide a stage for an emotive speech.
The former England captain, who was Eddie Jones’ right-hand man at two World Cups, explained: “The decision to go to the stadium was a very simple one because Welford Road is a special place. I know that from being there many times as an opposition player and it is important to recognise that.
There were some social media comments relating to the pronunciation of Kini Murimurivalu's namehttps://t.co/4RBzwKFesi
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“It is the home of this club and the key messages were along those lines. The people of Leicester may not be able at the moment to watch us live and the team makes them proud. They want the team on the field to represent them as they want.
“I don’t look back a huge amount and players made decisions and we wish those players well and we recruit and work with the players here and I am really enjoying doing that.”
Luke Wallace was one of the new arrivals at Leicester who was sat in the stand at Welford Road listening to Borthwick’s speech. The long-haired flanker played 169 times for Harlequins before he was released, joining Coventry in the Championship last season.
The club train on a regular basis with Leicester which allowed Wallace to chance to impress Tigers and show he could still offer something in the Premiership. He said: “Steve’s arrival is similar to the impact Paul Gustard made at Harlequins and the whole energy around the building changed for me.
“The first week with Steve we had a meeting in the stands at Welford Road and he gave a really inspirational speech. We spoke about the DNA of Leicester and taking the good from that and adding a new DNA. We talked about Leicester being a working-class town and they expected us to work hard and we have been putting in the work.
“I played at Welford Road a lot and Quins normally did turn up – it was an amazing crowd and you knew it would be a tough match. It is all about the fine margins and things can be changed. Hopefully, we will see that when game time is back. Steve is a very positive coach and expects hard work every session.”
"It seemed that certain young black kids in teams I was playing in were not given the chance to be a decision-maker – one of the intelligent positions”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 22, 2020
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