What hurts the Tigers boys the most is when people say they don’t care
EX-LEICESTER BACK ROWER IS CONFIDENT CLUB WILL IMPROVE
FORMER Leicester Tigers back rower Guy Thompson has taken no satisfaction in the club’s poor form following his departure – going as far to say he “hated seeing it”.
The 33-year-old’s contract was not renewed this summer after joining from Wasps in 2018 and he has since teamed up with ambitious Championship club Ealing Trailfinders.
While he awaits the start date for rugby’s second tier, Thompson has watched on as his former employers lost seven of their last nine Gallagher Premiership games to finish 11th for a second consecutive season.
This time, their relegation blushes were only spared by Saracens’ 105point deduction for multiple salary cap breaches.
“I hated seeing it,” said Thompson. “What hurts the most at Leicester, and what hurts the boys the most is when people say ‘oh, they don’t even care’.
“Or they say ‘they’re not trying’ or ‘do they even know what they’re doing?’.
“You want to turn to them and say, ‘why don’t you come and have a look at a training day with us, why don’t you come and have a little session?’ Because when you go out to battle at the weekend, and that’s what it is, it’s a war for 80 minutes.
“When you go out there, you’ve got 15 boys opposite you that are trying to do everything they can to stop you from doing what you want to do.”
Tigers’ form pre-pandemic, when Thompson was still among the ranks with the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May and Telusa Veainu, compared favourably to their results from midAugust onwards.
Following the Premiership Cup block of fixtures that kicked off the 2019/20 campaign, Tigers lost nine of their 19 Premiership and European Challenge Cup games.
While the defeats were less frequent, the criticism was still stinging for Thompson and his team-mates.
“It hurts for the boys, it hurt me when I was there and people said we didn’t care,” he said. “Those Leicester boys care more than most people I’ve ever met.
“Tom Youngs, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Calum Green, Dan Cole, they care about the club. The club is everything to them.
“So when things don’t go right, it hurts them more than it hurts anyone else. They’ll be fighting tooth and nail to turn it around.”
It has been a chastening start to life under head coach Steve Borthwick but Thompson is confident the lessons learnt from the closing chapters this term will stand Tigers in good stead heading into the 2020/21 season, which kicks off in a month’s time.
“I really, really hope and I do think they will turn Thompson.
“They’ve managed to have a few really good lessons under Borthers.
“They’re going to have this offseason now, they’re going to enjoy it, they’re going to relax, they’re going to rest, they’re going to come back refreshed, put a hell of a lot of work in, and when the season rolls around, that’s when the season starts.
“They don’t have to rotate players, they don’t have to pick and choose games.
“Everyone has had an opportunity, everyone has shown Borthers what they can do, he will now be able to pick his best team every week and really challenge that league. it around,” said
“With the players they have and the coaches they have, there’s no reason why they can’t get off to a good start.”
Reflecting on his own departure from Welford Road, which was a shock to many given the impact he made across his 33 appearances in green, red and white, Thompson stressed it was just “business”.
“I’ve got no hard feelings with the Tigers,” he said.
“Some people in the media said things that were wrong. I still talk to all the Tigers boys, I still get on well with all of them, I love the club, I loved my two years there.
“What people have to understand, fans as well, is, professional sport isn’t personal, it’s a job.
“Yes, we absolutely love where we play, we love what we do, and we will give everything for it, but, if a club decides they don’t want to keep you any more, it’s not personal, it’s business.
“They obviously think somebody else will do a better job in that position and that’s it.
“So when people started saying things about it, saying ‘they can’t do this’ or ‘they can’t do that’ or ‘Guy can’t do this’ or ‘Guy can’t do that’, it’s a job at the end of the day.
“People have to realise that. Hask [James Haskell] used to say that quite a lot. There’s no hard feelings.
“Every time I watch Wasps play, I want them to win. Every time I watch Leicester play, I want them to win.”