Leicester captain Ellis Genge hailed Steve Borthwick’s “incredible” work in helping the Tigers regain their place in the top table of English rugby.
A few years after they last won the title, Leicester were once again kings of the home game.
Borthwick – hot favorite to succeed England manager Eddie Jones – has only taken two seasons to transform the club since he took over as head coach.
When he arrived in the East Midlands, Leicester were almost in despair to find themselves having to take on a club that had only avoided relegation in 2019 because the Saracens had been demoted due to their repeated salary cap violations.
Jenge, who will join his home club Bristol next season, accompanied Borthwick every step of the way, culminating in a thrilling 15-12 victory over the Saracens in the Premier League final Gallagher at Twickenham.
“Steve came along and he restored that faith, that work ethic,” Genj said.
“Honestly, 2018 must have been a bit smug and we got what we deserved.
“But you reap the rewards if you put in the effort, and that’s what we did. What you have seen is the result of all the hard work.
“Steve was incredible. He hates to hear it, so I don’t really like saying it!
“He gets very clumsy – it’s actually pretty funny – but he’s a great cameraman. You don’t come in and turn a team from sixth last season into a win a year from now.
“I loved every minute. We worked tirelessly behind the scenes.
“Wind, rain, sunshine, we were there in the paddock doing hard work and it’s just class to see the awards. He hasn’t drowned yet.”
Genge remembers the hard times at Leicester well, evidenced by their winning just 13 of their 44 league matches in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
“I kind of figured it out when they (the Leicester fans) were throwing their season tickets at us when we were 11th,” he added.
“They were incredible during the time I was here and made me feel right at home. This (name) they deserve. They are dedicated fans and that’s what you get when you stay with a team.
I don’t want to delve into bad memories too much, but it’s class to see a resurgenceLeicester Captain Ellis Genge
“We lost to Exeter in the first game of the season (2018-19) 40-6 and then we were coached at home two or three times. It was dark.
“Of course I understand the emotions. I don’t want to delve into the bad memories too much, but it’s great to see a revival.
“Steve always talks about it. Success doesn’t come in big waves. I’ve seen ups and downs.
“I don’t think there is a magic potion. We thought we were working hard, but we weren’t.
“Steve and Aled Walters[Leicester’s head of fitness]came in and we had a lousy pre-season. No one has worked for so many years – we have not seen what bribery is.
“Steve and Aled don’t like to talk about it, but I’m not afraid to tell you that we’ve worked tirelessly to get where we are.
“We know that we are in good shape, we are grafting, and no one is going to leave. We left with a trophy.”