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Kevin Sinfield's impact at Leicester: 'What really stands out...'

By Chris Jones
(Photo by PA)

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Leicester boss Steve Borthwick has paid tribute to the immediate impact former rugby league great Kevin Sinfield has made as defence coach at the Gallagher Premiership leaders, who next tackle London Irish on Saturday.

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Leeds Rhinos legend Sinfield ran the London marathon on Sunday to raise money for the MND Association after his friend and former teammate Rob Burrow was diagnosed with the disease in December 2019. It was the latest running challenge Sinfield set himself, having previously run seven marathons in as many days, raising £2.2million in the same cause.

Leicester turned to Sinfield to boost their defensive play but the former Britain star is also playing a key role in mentoring and motivating the Tigers squad who remained unbeaten thanks to a last-gasp penalty try to beat Saracens 13-12 at the weekend.

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What happened when RugbyPass went behind the scenes at the Leicester Tigers academy
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What happened when RugbyPass went behind the scenes at the Leicester Tigers academy

Borthwick said: “In terms of the defensive systems there isn’t that much difference but what Kevin brings to the coaching side are man-management and leadership. He has added a lot from the defensive point of view but the way he is managing and interacting with players is superb.

“The players want to play for him and he adds all kinds of things working with the kickers, the front row forwards and he also has the ability with his skill set to work with our distributors in the attack. The defence and attack coaches are working hand in hand.

“What really stands out for me with Kevin is the way he manages people. You do your research and I spoke to people about Kevin and then you see him day-to-day and what he adds to the group and those small interactions – I can only imagine what he was like as the incredible captain he was, leading his team to so many great victories.”

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Despite guiding Leicester to the top of the table, Borthwick knows how close Tigers came to losing to Saracens and as he heads to the Brentford Community Stadium he added: “I’m under no illusions about how Saracens dominated large periods of the game but the character of the players is excellent and now we have to be a better team.”

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