Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford has commended the youngsters in his side as they marched on to the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup.
Tigers triumphed over French side Clermont Auvergne 56-27 over two legs in a solid Round of 16 performance.
Quality young players
Whilst there are experienced figures such as Ford himself in the squad, the fly-half praised the likes of Freddie Steward, Dan Kelly, Jack van Poortvliet and Ollie Chessum for their impact and general approach to the game.
“They are a great bunch of young lads,” Ford said. “The one thing that makes them stand out the most is the attitude they have got.
“It is the way they go about preparing, trying to improve physically, trying to improve mentally, the questions they ask and just their general attitude.
“Even though things have gone well for them and the team up to this point, they haven’t got ahead of themselves.
“I haven’t seen one little bit or inkling of them getting ahead of themselves, and that is the biggest thing I can say about them because that is unbelievably important and it will be throughout their whole careers.
“We’ve all got great relationships, to be honest, but it is refreshing how eager these guys are to learn.
“I’ve got to say I have never seen a young group like it – all of them, to a man. I am sure they will carry on like that, and that is the biggest compliment I can pay them.”
Ford came to the defence of scrum-half Ben Youngs, who holds the all-time appearance record for England, claiming the veteran does not get the respect he has earned.
“Ben doesn’t get the respect he deserves, if I am honest with you,” he added.
“He is the record holder for the amount of England caps, he still plays to the top of his game week in, week out, and he is an unbelievable guy to play (alongside).
“Ben is not the type of guy who needs people telling him how good he is every day. He is up there with the very best scrum-halves I have played with.
“I just think the consistency that he has shown to do it at the top level for that many years is unbelievable. I don’t think people will realise that until maybe Ben stops playing.”
Ford has seen the radical transformation in the Tigers’ camp under coach Steve Borthwick and believes the key to the club’s revival is simply hard work.
“It is a lot of hard work. There is no secret formula – I wish I could tell you there was,” he explained.
“It is doing the basics brilliantly well, it is coming into training with a mindset to improve week on week, and we have a clear identity of the way we want to play the game.
“When Steve heads it up in that way and makes it unbelievably clear, you can throw everything into it as a player and as a group of players to improve.”
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