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The mystery of Borthwick's Leicester: 'We don't want to have to tell you how we are going to play'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Geordan Murphy is coy over what style of play Leicester Tigers are actually looking to play under new head coach Steve Borthwick, whose first outing in charge ended in Gallagher Premiership defeat at Exeter last Saturday.   


Leicester remain in eleventh place on the table following their ninth loss of the 2019/20 campaign. They sit 18 points off the top four but are safe from relegation due to the automatic demotion to the Championship of the salary cap-breaching Saracens.  

Having finished eleventh at the end of the 2018/19 season, Leicester are hoping to break their cycle of underachievement following the summer arrival of Borthwick from England, recruitment that resulted in Murphy ‘moving upstairs’ into a director of rugby role. 

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RugbyPass brings you The Academy, the behind the scenes documentary series on the Leicester Tigers youngsters
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RugbyPass brings you The Academy, the behind the scenes documentary series on the Leicester Tigers youngsters

With eight more regulation-season league games to come before the end of the season, along with a Challenge Cup quarter-final, Leicester will likely quickly settle down to life under Borthwick. Murphy, though, refused to indicate how Borthwick’s Leicester aspire to play in the weeks and months ahead. 

“Look, where we are at is I want people to be able to recognise that,” he said on a Zoom call. “We don’t want to have to talk about it, we don’t want to have to tell you how we are going to play. We want you to be able to identify those traits in us. 

“On the weekend we certainly were far more energised, we were far fitter and we were competitive for large parts of the game. We certainly let Exeter into the game with our discipline, but in that we showed some quality that we haven’t in a while. 


“It’s a work in progress. I said right at the beginning when we got Steve in, everyone felt it was a silver bullet and automatically things were going to turn around and instantaneously results would start dropping our way. That we never going to be the case. It’s certainly an opportunity for us to build and grow and start a campaign now that we can continue on into next season.”

Leicester host Bath on Saturday in Borthwick’s second outing at the helm and the usual matchday dynamics at Welford Road will be different now that games are being played behind close doors and social distancing measures are required. 

“We have got the opposition moved out,” said Murphy about the cramped dressing room confines at the famed Leicester stadium. “They [Bath] are going to change in one of the bars down the right-hand side. They will have sort of one half of the ground and we will have the other. 

“In essence, we will have bigger changing rooms. We will bring a smaller number of people through as well so we will be able to socially distance and spread ourselves out where possible. We have been through all of this. 


“It seems a bit crazy that you can’t sit beside someone but you pack down with them 30 minutes later but they are the guidelines and that’s what we’re trying to adhere to.”


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