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Dublin: 12°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Murphy takes interim charge of Leicester Tigers after O'Connor dismissal

The former Ireland fullback is promoted from his assistant coach role.

GEORDAN MURPHY HAS been appointed to the role of Leicester Tigers head coach on an interim basis, after Matt O’Connor left the Premiership club with immediate effect on Monday evening.

O’Connor, in his second spell in charge at Welford Road, leaves two days after the Tigers were beaten 40-6 in their Premiership season-opener at Exeter Chiefs. 

Geordan Murphy Murphy has been part of the Tigers coaching staff since his retirement in 2013. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Former Ireland fullback Murphy has been part of the Leicester coaching staff since his retirement in 2013, working firstly as Richard Cockerill’s assistant backs coach and then subsequently as assistant coach under Aaron Mauger and O’Connor.

The 40-year-old — Leicester’s most-decorated player having won eight Premiership titles with the Tigers — has now been tasked with reversing the club’s fortunes after they finished a disappointing fifth last term and failed to get out of their Champions Cup pool. 

The timing of O’Connor’s dismissal — 48 hours into the new season — might come as a surprise, but the Australian’s future had been in doubt after the Tigers failed to reach the Premiership play-offs for the first time in 14 seasons in May. 

Leicester said the decision was made “in the best interest of the Tigers moving forward.”

O’Connor, the former Leinster head coach, had returned to the helm at Welford Road towards the end of the 2016/17 season, guiding the Tigers to the Premiership semi-finals but was unable to help the club back to the heights scaled during his first spell in charge between 2010 and 2013. 

“Matt was appointed head coach in April 2017 on the basis of his previous Premiership experience and his knowledge of the club,” Leicester chairman, Peter Tom, said. 

“But we believe the time is right to make this change in the best interests of the Tigers moving forward.

“We would like to thank Matt for his hard work and commitment to the club in two spells at Welford Road, and we wish him and his family well for the future.”

Leicester Tigers v Wasps - Aviva Premiership - Welford Road O'Connor leaves his role with immediate effect. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Murphy, who won 72 Ireland caps during his 14-year career, will now take control of first-team affairs ahead of Saturday’s clash with Newcastle Falcons. 

Coaches Mark Bakewell, Boris Stankovich and Brett Deacon will remain in their roles. 

Tom added: “As a club, Leicester Tigers will always aspire to challenge for major honours in the incredibly competitive arena of professional elite club rugby and everyone at the club will fully support Geordan and the management group in driving the team forward.

“Geordan knows the expectations and ambitions of the Tigers as well as anyone after more than 20 years here as player and coach, and we wish him and the team the very best for the challenges ahead.”

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Ryan Bailey

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