Steve Borthwick: Leicester Tigers potential excites head coach

Freddie Steward in action for Leicester
Freddie Steward made his Tigers debut in January 2019 at the age of 19

Head coach Steve Borthwick says the performance of Leicester's youngsters in their 18-17 Challenge Cup defeat by Montpellier shows they are on the up.

Tigers have been greatly improved this season and are sixth in the Premiership after successive 11th-placed finishes.

The Twickenham loss was their first appearance in a major final since 2013.

"You've got a number of players that have played less than 20 games for Leicester, which is astronomical," said Borthwich, who took over in July 2020.

"We have used 41 players in this competition; we've given five club debuts and the team won in France for the first time in many years.

"When you look at Freddie Steward, you look at Dan Kelly, you look at Cam Henderson, who came on, Tommy Reffell, who's only 22 years old...there's a lot of potential for growth.

"There were plenty of good things and the players should be proud of their efforts and the Leicester supporters should be proud of their team's efforts too."

After Vincent Rattez had crossed for the Top 14 side early on, tries in the space of 13 minutes by Harry Wells and Jasper Wiese saw Tigers lead 17-10, only for Johan Goosen's score to win it for Montpellier.

"Yes, we got in a position to win and we didn't, so there is plenty to learn," Borthwick added. "But that can be a positive that we got so close and there is still growth. We are disappointed but still proud.

"We've played against Montpellier, who are an outstanding team, huge budget, star-studded players throughout and we came very close to beating them."

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