Richard Wigglesworth says fired-up Leicester ‘have to attack’ Clermont
Richard Wigglesworth batted away suggestions that his Leicester teammates must safeguard against complacency before their Champions Cup match against Clermont on Saturday. After a famous 29-10 win in France in the first leg last weekend, they are all but assured of a place in the last eight of Europe’s premier competition.
“It wouldn’t be on any of the players’ lips,” Wigglesworth said of such premature talk. “Steve [Borthwick] has created an environment where anyone wouldn’t dare breathe, hopefully even think about it. We have to attack this weekend.”
Wigglesworth, who also serves as an assistant coach, was glowing in his praise of Borthwick and explained how the former England captain has transformed the club into such a formidable outfit. Before Borthwick’s arrival as head coach at the start of the 2020-1 campaign, Leicester were a team in decline. Two consecutive 11th-place finishes in the Premiership was an abject return for the 10-time champions.
In his first season, Borthwick took the team to sixth in the league and also reached the Challenge Cup final, losing by a point against Montpellier at Twickenham. This year, few would be surprised if they secured a domestic and continental double.
“He is as on-task as anyone I’ve met,” Wigglesworth said of Borthwick’s approach. “There is a non-stop need for the next minute, hour, day, week to be really good. He’s doing what he should be doing, which is leading. That is where he is most comfortable, that is where he excels. He’s really skilled but still authentic. He’s just really skilled but still authentic. Really skilled with his language, with his demeanour, the tone of his voice, the list goes on.”
Beyond Borthwick’s philosophy, Wigglesworth has his own experience to serve as a ballast to any complacency. He was part of the last English team to win in Clermont with Sale in 2008 but was on the losing side in the next round at home against Munster. “We thought we were better than we were,” Wigglesworth said of that defeat 14 years ago. “[Leicester] haven’t done anything yet.”
Perhaps not, but Wigglesworth has, particularly with Saracens, where he won nine major trophies including three European Cups. Is this Leicester team on its way to replicating those Saracens feats? “Like a disciple of Borthwick, Wigglesworth played down the comparison. “This is a team that’s won zero [trophies] and was the worst team in the league 18 months ago. I’d be pretty bonkers to think those two teams are comparable at the moment..