Tigers director of rugby Cockerill has ended a nine-week matchday ban imposed by an RFU disciplinary hearing after the Aviva Premiership Final last May and returns to the coaching box for Sunday’s Round 7 fixture away to London Wasps.
In his absence, backs coach Paul Burke and assistant coaches Richard Blaze and Geordan Murphy have had to direct the squad on matchdays.
“I think they’ve all done a great job,” said Cockerill. “We’re joint-second in the Aviva Premiership table and we’re in the mix in Europe with six points from two games.
“They’ve managed the situation very well, though they’re also probably pretty happy they can hand it back and all the problems are mine on matchdays again!
“During the ban I’d talk with Burkey about things in the week before a game but I’d say ‘It’s your decision, you make the calls,’ because that’s the role of the coach on matchdays. It’s been a bit unfair on him to go straight into the firing line after stepping up to backs coach during the summer. But it’s been good for him and he has managed it very well with the other coaches.
“Now I’m happy to be back and be able to do what I do on matchday. From May 25 to now is a long time to be away from what you know and what you like doing.”
Cockerill’s immediate target is Sunday’s trip to Adams Park, where Tigers have not won since 2007, and then the home game against Harlequins before attention switches to the LV= Cup.
“We’ve got big games with Wasps away and Harlequins at home, and we want to be able to cement our place in those top four places before the Cup break,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to doing my stuff and driving it the way I’ve always done it. During the ban I didn’t have the same adrenalin flowing because I was detached from the team and that is hard, but that was the punishment.”