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The Premiership - Rugby Union: Borthwick key to Tigers turnaround

With 16 wins from their first 19 games, it's been an impressive Gallagher Premiership campaign so far for Leicester Tigers.

From a team that finished down in sixth place in the table last season, head coach Steve Borthwick deserves great credit for the key decisions he's made to get the Tigers back on the up.

Giving Genge the armband

With Leicester last lifting the Premiership trophy back in 2013, something clearly needed to be done to get the East Midlands outfit back to the top of the English game again.

The Tigers dominated the Premiership around the turn of the millennia, winning the title four years on the bounce between 1999 and 2022.

That team was based on the best forward pack in the country, a physicality that could not be matched and an intimidating reputation at Welford Road.

The likes of Graham Rowntree, Martin Johnson, Ben Kay, Lewis Moody and Neil Back were part of that formidable pack which managed to record such impressive domestic and European success.

Borthwick knew what it was like to take on the players during his time at rivals Bath and on his arrival at Leicester as head coach, he was determined to bring that edge back to this Tigers team.

Giving England prop Ellis Genge the responsibility of the captaincy looks to have been a great move by Borthwick.

Genge, known for being somewhat hot-headed at times on the field, has taken to the role well, while also keeping his physical edge on the field.

While England endured a difficult Six Nations Championship, Genge was a standout performer for his country and that might well be down to the confidence he now plays with at Leicester.

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Defence back on top

After the first 19 games of the season, Leicester have conceded the second fewest amount of points in the league behind Saracens, who have played a game less.

Leicester conceded 492 points in 22 games last term, while they have conceded 368 in their 19 outings to date.

Defenses win championships and if the Tigers, who are 5/2 to win the Grand Final, are to lift the trophy this season then their work without the ball will have played a key role.

Internationals return

Leicester will look forward to the return of their England stars following their exploits at the Six Nations.

The return of Genge, scrum-half Ben Youngs and fly-half George Ford will come as a big lift for the Tigers following their 36-28 defeat on the road at Newcastle Falcons last time out.

Leicester made a blistering start to the season and if they can get that momentum back, with their returning stars at Welford Road, they will certainly be in the mix for the title come those all-important play-off clashes.

Sunday provides another good acid test to see where Leicester are at when they make the trip to Sandy Park to take on Exeter Chiefs.

Leicester are currently 10/11 to win with a +1 point handicap, while Exeter are 4/1 to win the Grand Final this season.

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