Freddie Burns ready to complete ‘unfinished business’ in Premiership final

Freddie Burns ready to complete ‘unfinished business’ in Premiership final

Freddie Burns says that a Gallagher Premiership title triumph would “mean the world” to him as his 13th season of professional rugby heads towards a Twickenham finale.

The 32-year-old returns to a ground where he marked his Test debut by helping England beat New Zealand in 2012.

Now in his second spell with Leicester, Burns has also featured for Gloucester, Bath and Japanese club Toyota Jido Shokki during a much-travelled career.

Burns’ versatility as a fly-half and full-back has proved invaluable for Tigers boss Steve Borthwick this season.

And he is set to continue that key bench role on Saturday when Leicester’s first Premiership final appearance for nine years sees them tackling fellow English heavyweights Saracens.

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“The reason I came back from Japan was that I felt there was a bit of unfinished business,” Burns said.

“It has been a 13-14 year career, and I think I have played in three or four Premiership semi-finals and never made it to the big occasion.

“To have slogged for as long as I have and to finally get this opportunity and potentially be part of something special is huge. It would mean everything. I can’t express how much I want it. Even talking about it, I feel the emotion.

“It would mean the world to me, to Leicester as a city and Leicester as a club.

“It is so difficult to reach a final. I remember speaking with Tom Youngs when I first signed at Leicester, and the way he described it was that one team succeeds and 11 fail.

“This year it’s 13 teams in the Premiership, and 12 fail, and that kind of stuck with me. No-one really remembers who comes second.

“You are proud of the accomplishment of reaching a final, but it kind of counts for nothing unless we go and win the thing on Saturday.

“It has been a good season for us to reach a final in the manner that we have, but at the same time we are desperate to win something, and if aren’t winning it on Saturday then we will feel like we have fallen short.”

No-one really remembers who comes second

Leicester won eight Premiership titles between 1999 and 2013, a remarkable record that included four on the bounce.

But sides like Saracens and Exeter have subsequently dominated the domestic scene, while Leicester were only spared relegation two years ago when Saracens were demoted following repeated salary cap breaches.

Borthwick has transformed Tigers, though, since he arrived in the east midlands ahead of the 2020-21 season.

So much so, that Leicester won all 12 of their Premiership home games this term, went top on the campaign’s opening weekend last September and stayed there for nine months.

“I think for us as a squad, I’ve just been proud of the fight we have shown all year,” Burns added.

“We got lucky a little bit early in the season, but it came from staying in the fight. I’ve played in a team of fighters that scrap for everything and look after each other, and I couldn’t be prouder of that.

“A lot of credit has to go to Steve and the coaching staff and what they have instilled in the boys, but again, it’s the fact that we hang in there and are a tough team to play against.

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“If you are in the fight, then things can happen. It’s not about flashy skill-sets or anything like that, it is about working hard for your mates.

“I know the beauty of the Premiership is a team can sneak into fourth place and still go and win it, but I think you are getting the two best teams consistently over the season playing each other on Saturday, which should make for a great game.”

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