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Now Moody joins in those criticising Cockerill

Lewis MoodyLeicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill found himself under pressure yesterday as Lewis Moody joined critics of the Tigers’ performance last season.

Moody says Geordan Murphy must be handed greater responsibility for team affairs at Leicester as Moody, who believes his old club have not yet adequately covered for last year’s loss of former backs coach Matt O’Connor.

Moody has become the latest Leicester old boy to speak out against the club in the wake of last season’s failure to win silverware, after Neil Back branded their attacking philosophy “woeful” and claimed flair players were being “restrained.”

Leicester were the third highest try-scorers in the Premiership last season with 59, comfortably eclipsing Harlequins (43) and Bath (48).

But that has not prevented Moody questioning the judgement of  Cockerill, who he believes must make better use of assistant coach Murphy or face consequences if Tigers fail again.

Moody told The Rugby Paper: “Leicester were disappointing last season, you have to admit, and Cockers has been there a long time. You always hear rumours when you’re out of the club environment, so it’s a big season for everyone.

“From everything I hear, Geordan’s doing a wonderful job down there so I don’t think it will be long before people start wanting to see him in a more senior role and taking on more responsibility.

“You certainly want to see Geordan elevated through the ranks very quickly because he’s got such a great understanding of the game. He’s got a fresh look on it, a great rapport with the players and the fans, so the sooner that Leicester get him into a more senior position the better it will be for all concerned – including Cockers.”

Asked if he felt Cockerill’s job was under threat, Moody added: “Everyone always has a question mark against them. The year they had last year was a tough one and they’ve not been as stellar as they have been in the past.

“Cockers signed a big contract so I can’t see him leaving any time soon, but when Matt O’Connor left it created a gaping hole and I don’t think people realised what a gaping loss it was.

“But they’ve got plenty of guys with lots of experience and I’d just like to see Geordan being pushed nearer to that senior decision-making role. I really think they’d see the benefits.”

Meanwhile, Moody has described the continued absence of Martin Johnson from top-line coaching as a “tragedy” and believes Leicester could be missing a further trick by not re-employing his talents somewhere within the organisation.

“Johnno’s a huge miss to the game and he has a massive contribution to make,” Moody explained. “He is a fantastic coach who has such a great understanding of the game and the fact he is not in senior coaching is soul-destroying for me.

“Having played and trained under Johnno, you know how good he is as an individual and that Leicester side of the late-Nineties and early-Noughties was HIS side. It didn’t matter what coach you had, he ran it – and it was the same for England.

“It’s a tragedy that he’s out of the game so he needs to be brought back in. I’d love to see him come back in some capacity at Leicester but maybe it’s just a timing thing. The 2011 World Cup was a big blow but we need him back involved.”

NEALE HARVEY

*This article was published in The Rugby Paper on July 20

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