England’s rising star voted ‘best player in the world’
- European Champions Cup
- Gallagher Premiership
Fresh off of Leicester Tigers’ impressive win over ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Marcel Michelin in the Champions Cup round of 16 first leg, Freddie Steward has received praise from Leicester legend Austin Healey.
The 21-year-old was imperious through the air in his side’s 29-10 win, as he has been throughout his career so far, but again showed just how good he can be an offensive weapon under the high ball. His kick chase and 65-minute catch created Harry Potter’s bid to seal the Tigers’ victory and showed he’s not just solid in the backfield. It was on display a month earlier in France, where Eddie Jones deployed him on the wing in the Six Nations to use his chasing kick, and it worked wonders.
Following that performance, Healey tweeted “Steward just might be the best player in the world in the air.” It didn’t necessarily go down well, with the name “Liam Williams” popping up a number of times in his comments.
Steward might just be the best player in the world in the air
—Austin Healey (@IamAustinHealey) April 10, 2022
Leicester went on to win despite being down to 14 men for the final quarter following a red card from Guy Porter, and that handling of the game particularly pleased head coach Steve Borthwick.
“I thought for most of this game we were tactically very smart against a great team,” Borthwick said.
“I think the way we adapted to the red card and playing with 14 men for 20 minutes was brilliant. I think at the end of the day the most important thing is how hard they worked one for the other.
Leicester now have a 19-point lead heading into the second leg at Welford Road, but Borthwick are not resting on their laurels.
“I’m really looking forward to next week, but we have to make sure we’re at our best because Clermont are a very good team,” he said.
“Welford Road can be a noisy stadium. The fans are going to bring a lot of heart and it will spill out onto the pitch for our team.
“They do it every time. I can’t wait to feel that with the players and I hope to finish another game well.
Take a look at Steward’s hands-on work:
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 10, 2022