“It was a pretty dark changing room,” conceded Zack Henry, speaking the morning after Leicester Tigers’ record Premiership defeat.
Just 14 hours after playing the 69 minutes of the 54-7 loss to Wasps, the fly-half, signed from French club Nevers during Tigers’ turbulent summer, faced the unenviable task of reflecting upon the Ricoh Arena rout.
“There was not much talking going on, everyone was sort of reflecting,” said the Brighton-born back. “After the game is not when you get into the depth of it, because it’s raw and everyone is hurting. Today is when we will look at the whys and the logistics of it all.”
The defeat, which was Tigers heaviest in all competitions since the 43-0 home loss to Glasgow Warriors in 2017, saw them concede 17 penalties, miss 31 tackles and allow Wasps to make 24 clean breaks on their way to scoring 54 unanswered points.
Henry’s own display, which saw him fill in at multiple positions, was one of the few bright points for the visitors, who took an early lead through Cameron Henderson’s fifth minute try, but collapsed in the second half
“I am not sure about the positives but you can learn from anything,” said the 25-year-old. “I think the boys, in terms of their future careers, will look back at that game and take things from it. Gengey [Ellis Genge] said in an interview that nothing is going to be given to you, 15 men turning up on a rugby pitch isn’t enough to warrant a result.
“You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to be disciplined, you’ve got to have a gameplan or you’ve got to stick to a gameplan. There will definitely be learnings from that. For now it’s just about addressing the issues that went wrong.”
It has been a chastening start to Steve Borthwick’s time as head coach at Welford Road, after officially starting work on July 1.
Across the five defeats and the 13-7 victory against London Irish in round 16, Tigers have shipped 211 points at an average of 35 per game and 30 tries (average five per game).
Progress may not be evident in results but Henry believes positive steps are being made and that patience will be required from all parties during the difficult transition period.
“The results aren’t reflecting it now that’s the most important metric,” he said, “if you’re looking at the other metrics we’re looking at, at the training ground, there’s improvements everywhere. In terms of the way we are training, in terms of fitness, in terms of gym, in terms of even statistics in games, although I am not sure about the stats from last night!
“There’s definitely massive improvements. Steve talks about the journey and we’re going to have to ask the fans, the club, to have some patience with it. There is definitely a feeling we’re at the start of this journey and we’re making progress. We’re going to continue to believe in it, I hope the supporters will continue to believe in it. Things don’t change over night, but, the small progresses we’re making will pay off in the long run, I hope.”