Lewis Moody talks about Leicester’s “meteoric shift” ahead of the Premiership Final

With seven Premiership titles in his cabinet, former Leicester and England flanker Lewis Moody knows a thing or two about what it takes to win the biggest national prize in English rugby.

Moody helped England gain fame at the 2003 World Cup, was his country’s captain and also tested three times for British and Irish lions in a brilliant career.

But it wasn’t until 14 years in Leicester that Moody got used to the sweet taste of victory.

“Enjoyed watching Leicester”: Lewis Moody fully praised his ex-club

“Enjoyed watching Leicester”: Lewis Moody fully praised his ex-club

He was part of the winning Tigers team that swept ahead of them not only on the Premiership stage but also in Europe. This team was led by the great Martin Johnson.

In the Leicester 2022 class, Ellis Genge is the captain. On Saturday, they will face the Saracens in the Premiership Final at Twickenham, just 80 minutes ahead of what would have been their 11th title.

Such a prospect would have been unthinkable two years ago.

Had it not been for the gigantic Saracen points deduction for breaching the salary limit, Leicester would have been relegated from the league in the 2019/20 season. Both clubs are now back at the far right of the table.

“It was an amazing season. I love watching Leicester, ”said Moody, 44 Sports mail. “There hasn’t been a big change in the squad this year, but there has been a rapid change in the performance.

“Some of this must come from the fact that in a few tough years, young players like Freddie Steward were given the opportunity to play.

“In the 90’s and 2000’s, when we were winning left, right and center, there were opportunities for players like me and Ben Kay when the reps were absent.

“I think the same thing happened now.”

Former England's Moody teammate Steve Borthwick spearheaded Leicester's resurgence

Former England’s Moody teammate Steve Borthwick spearheaded Leicester’s resurgence

In the greatest of compliments, Moody believes that Leicester’s current collections share many of the same traits that his team of Tigers had ten or more years ago.

“For me, this is personified by the captain who replaced Tom Youngs. Ellis is just a terrier or bulldog style character, ‘added Moody.

– He can be reckless and it annoys us a bit, because you never really know what he will do next. But you know you’re 100 percent committed.

“There is an element of Ellis that reminds me of Johnno, who was also reckless at times because he was so damn dedicated to the cause.

“He was so excited and determined to lead by example and at the same time developed a cool, calm mind when needed.

“It was inspiring leadership. Johnno needed no words. He was someone you followed and wanted to follow.

“Ellis is just a terrier or bulldog style character”: Moody thinks Ellis Genge is a great leader

“I love watching Ellis play this year. He was brilliant and I’m really worried he is leaving. Looks like old Leicester dog is coming back.

“I’ve seen them finish at the top of each round, it was amazing, but neither of it matters unless they win at the weekend.”

Moody’s former England teammate Steve Borthwick was the man who initiated Leicester’s resurgence by taking him from the wrong end of the table to the top as head coach.

This season, the Tigers reached the top of every round of the campaign, becoming the first team in Premiership history to do so.

Borthwick has worked under England coach Eddie Jones and is a prime candidate to replace the Australian as he retires after next year’s World Cup in France.

“Anyone who played Steve knew he was going to have a future in coaching because of the level of attention he paid to his game, especially in the line-outs that he had been leading for so long,” added Moody.

“He was captain of England for a reason and made a big impact on Leicester.

“Steve is very quiet and knows what he’s good at and what he’s not so good at. As a person, he would be very happy to show up for work, do his job, and come home.

“What maybe he’s not so good at is energizing players and this side of things, so I think he was really smart about the way he has designated people around him who fill his gaps and are experts in their fields.

Moody was part of Martin Johnson's England team that triumphed at the 2003 World Cup

Moody was part of Martin Johnson’s England team that triumphed at the 2003 World Cup

“Kevin Sinfield and Aled Walters are really smart meetings. Kevin in particular reminds me a bit of Andy Farrell in the way he gets the band going.

“I have always believed very much in the motto that if you are good enough you are old enough. Steve has done an incredible job in Leicester and has trained internationally in Japan and England, so he has experience there.

Is Steve looking to become the next England head coach? Only he knows it, but I think he would do a very good job and would be one of the top contenders to replace Eddie. There are many good English coaches.

– One of them is Rob Baxter, but I’m not sure he wants the job. I think he is happy in Exeter. It’s a big challenge for England, but I think Steve would be a very good choice.

Like Leicester, the Saracens also experienced a remarkable change after returning to the Premiership following a decline in wage limits breaches in 2020.

Both teams will want to crown their revival with cutlery.

“If Leicester had finished winning it would have been as great as any of the club’s other achievements.” I think it would be huge for the club, ”said Moody.

George Ford scored the first attempt in a Leicester 27-14 semi-final victory against Northampton

George Ford scored the first attempt in a Leicester 27-14 semi-final victory against Northampton

Everyone in Leicester knows nothing has been done for Saturday’s final. It will be a failure if they don’t win.

“The only caveat is that they’ve gone through such a tremendous turnaround that I’m sure they will take a huge sum this season, but they’ll end up disappointing if they lose.

“There have been a lot of changes and had they won it would have been on par with all the victories we’ve had with the team during my time. This is because they had to start over.

“Leicester seems to have been at bottom for the past two seasons. I remember talking to my old bandmates and we said it would take years to get back to where we were supposed to be.

“We said yes because we really believed it.

“Quickly flipping it in such an impressive style and being so consistently dominant against the best sides was amazing to watch.”

Lewis Moody is a rugby union ambassador for The Drake Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research into the health effects of head injuries. For more information, visit www.drakefoundation.org

Key duels

This is Lewis Moody here Sports mail by the big bouts in Saturday’s Premiership Final between his old club Leicester and the Saracens …

George Ford vs. Owen Farrell

Both of these guys have been fantastic players for their clubs and England and will want to make their mark on the game.

Ford and Farrell are good friends and have long been international team mates, but I think they will want to prove who is the best at Twickenham.

Owen got injured but is back in great rugby. Ford has been forgotten by England, but it will want to show why it should not be so. He was on fire in the semi-finals. It’s a great duel.

Freddie Steward vs. Alex Goode

Both Leicester and Saracens play in a very similar style of rugby. They don’t take too much risk – certainly not in their own half – and throw away a lot of possession to try to make their opponent make mistakes.

I think there will be a lot of kicking at Twickenham which means the two defenders will be very busy. Who’s the best at a high ball will help your team tremendously. The flight attendant is unique in this respect.

Julian Montoya vs. Jamie George

Jamie is watching great! Some of his skills are ridiculous for a prostitute. You look at him playing Soccer AM and volleying over the top baskets and you realize what a talented athlete he is.

He can do anything! Montoya is a rather old prostitute, really physical and rough, but those are Jamie’s qualities too. I think whoever wins the battle ahead will win the game.

What’s your forecast?

It’s so hard to call. I think the top two teams advanced to the final because they took first and second place.

Leicester has been in the lead all year, but it doesn’t mean anything if they don’t win today. It will be very difficult for them to defeat the Saracens, but I will go with my heart and think they can just smuggle it in!

Ultimately, it will be about who shows up and delivers on a given day. You’d like to think with Leicester, which has been at the top all year round, they will be able to do it. But we know how good Saracens win, and that annoys me a lot.

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