Steve Borthwick dismisses England links and insists focus is on Leicester

Steve Borthwick insists his focus is on Leicester’s opening European game this weekend and not on speculation linking him to becoming England’s new head coach.

Tigers director of rugby Borthwick is the favourite to succeed Eddie Jones, who was sacked on Tuesday after overseeing England’s worst year of results since 2008.

“We play Ospreys on Sunday night and that’s what I’m focused upon,” Borthwick said at his pre-match press conference for Leicester’s Heineken Champions Cup opener.

England Captains Run – 2019 Rugby World Cup – Oita Stadium
Leicester Tigers boss Steve Borthwick previously worked as England’s number two (David Davies/PA)

“That’s what my team is focused upon and that’s what we’ve been focused upon all week.

“Within Leicester Tigers and this team here, there is no talk here of anything other than the game on Sunday night.”

Borthwick – who pledged he would be in the Leicester dugout for their second Champions Cup game against Clermont Auvergne on December 17 – added: “I don’t think anyone can possibly doubt how committed I have been since the minute I walked through this door to give the best I can for this team.

“That is my intention again this week to get the performance we want.

Eddie Jones file photo
Eddie Jones was sacked as England head coach earlier this week (Ben Whitley/PA)

“All these things that go on around a team, your job is always to be focused on what you need to do.

“Since I’ve come in here my focus is on what we need to get better today.

“We have frameworks in place to make sure how we think about how we train, how we prepare, and we will continue to do that this week.”

The 43-year-old former England captain was given his first coaching role in 2012 when Jones was in charge of Japan.

England Training Session – Twickenham
Steve Borthwick (right) paid tribute to his former boss Eddie Jones (left) following the latter’s departure as England head coach (David Davies/PA)

Borthwick stepped down as England forwards coach after the 2019 World Cup, and final defeat to South Africa.

He moved on to Leicester whom he transformed from fallen giants to last season’s Gallagher Premiership champions.

Borthwick said he had spoken to Jones after his seven-year England reign came to an end just nine months before the 2023 World Cup.

He said: “Eddie is a phenomenal coach and I was very fortunate and privileged to have worked with him for so many years.

Rugby Union 2022-2023 Club by Club File Photos
Leicester Tigers were crowned 2022 Gallagher Premiership champions after Steve Borthwick led them out of the doldrums (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I have learned and continue to learn a huge amount from him. Even when not working in the same coaching team as him since I came to Leicester Tigers, he’s always been incredibly supportive of myself and my coaching journey.

“I could talk about Eddie’s work ethic and the desire to learn.

“He never ceases to want to be better and improve the players to help them achieve their dreams.

“But what I should actually talk about is the generosity of the guy. Whenever I’ve heard a coach ask questions of him I’ve seen him help people all around the world.

“He loves the game and he’s just an incredible coach.”