Borthwick backs 'underdogs' Leicester to stun Montpellier in Challenge Cup final

·2-min read
'No one thinks we can win' - Leicester boss Steve Borthwick believes his side will be 'huge underdogs' in Friday's European Challenge Cup final against Montpellier at Twickenham

Steve Borthwick has urged "huge underdogs" Leicester to overcome the odds by beating a star-studded Montpellier side in Friday's European Challenge Cup final at Twickenham.

Leicester, once the dominant force in English club rugby union, only avoided relegation from the elite Premiership last season after Saracens were demoted as a result of huge points penalties for repeated salary cap breaches.

But they are now just 80 minutes away from a first major trophy since 2013.

Leicester have won 10 Premiership titles, the majority in the 2000s when the Midlands club enjoyed back-to-back wins in what is now the European Champions Cup final in 2001 and 2002.

Lifting Europe's second-tier Challenge Cup may not seem much by comparison but it would be significant for the Tigers, especially as they are up against a Montpellier side who have left three of South Africa's 2019 World Cup-winners -- Bismarck Du Plessis, Cobus Reinach and Handre Pollard -- on the bench.

"We are playing against an excellent team, packed full of talent, and we come in as huge underdogs," said Borthwick.

"I don't think anyone really thinks Leicester Tigers, a team who finished bottom of the Premiership a few months ago, have a chance against a club who have I don't know how many millions of pounds worth of players and with the budget they operate off," the former England captain and assistant coach added.

"But we go into the game wanting to win and I want to make sure every time we play, we put in a performance that moves us forward and is one our supporters can be proud of."

Meanwhile Tigers and England fly-half George Ford will face a familiar foe in Alex Lozowski, on loan to French club Montpellier from Saracens.

Lozowski, who won the last of his five England caps in 2018, has been picked to start at No 10, with Pollard still not fully fit following an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Ford, acknowledging that Montpellier were "full of world-class players," said of Lozowski: "Obviously Loz has gone over there, I know him from playing together at England, and he is a brilliant player.

"I used to love playing with him, he is a committed guy with a great skill set and I think he is enjoying his rugby out in France, so it will take a really top-end performance from us to get over the line."