Geordan Murphy admits it has been “difficult to operate” under current circumstances as he, like the majority of the world’s population, attempt to adapt to social distancing measures in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In an all-encompassing interview with LTTV, the soon-to-be Tigers Director of Rugby chatted about the challenges for him, his coaching staff and the Leicester playing group as they continue to work and train – albeit in a somewhat limited capacity – while on lock-down across the county.
However, the head coach expressed his delight at the way players had remained motivated while forced to train alone.
“Obviously we can’t train together, so the guys have taken programmes away,” he said “They are really focused athletes and conscious to keep themselves fit.”
Meanwhile, as the challenges of coaching a side and educating players is presenting its own issues and players, coaches and fans alike miss the buzz of weekly fixtures, it’s also a period in the rugby calendar that is dominated by the comings and goings of players ahead of the next campaign.
“It’s going to be a journey and we need everyone on board, rowing in the same direction"Geordan Murphy
In recent weeks, the club has confirmed new faces who will wear Leicester colours later this year and also the departure of Jonny May, which Murphy admitted has had its own hurdles to overcome while in lock-down.
“The pandemic has thrown up a lot of problems,” he said.
“Not being able to sit in rooms and face to face has been tough … it has been difficult to operate.
“We were in negotiations for Jonny for a while … he has done a really good job for Leicester Tigers over the years and we wish him the very best of luck.”
The Tigers also recently confirmed a start date for Murphy’s new role as DoR and incoming Head Coach Steve Borthwick.
Murphy, who has balanced both roles since being thrust into the top job just one round into the 2018/19 season, also alluded to more changes in the coaching ranks at the club while reiterating his own excitement ahead of Borthwick’s arrival.
“I believe this is going to be huge for Leicester Tigers,” said Murphy.
“We have got a great coaching team and will add some more coaches to that to have a highly functioning organisation.
“In Steve, we are getting one of the best coaches in the world … the rugby programme will be far stronger for having him in it and players will respond very well to Steve.”
However, while visibly positive about the new make-up of the top jobs at Tigers and potential changes among the assistants’ ranks, Murphy did admit that patience was required from all, inside and outside the organisation.
“You can’t just have a magic bullet and turn things around, it will definitely take time,” responded Murphy when quizzed on what the immediate impact might be, before adding, “This is the start of a project.”
“We are starting from the bottom … you can’t just expect to win, we have to build and we have to grow.”
While at the helm of the club, Murphy has taken criticism from all areas of the game and said that the enjoyment shared by those who don’t support the club during the time spent at the “bottom” for Tigers is expected.
And, as one of the world’s biggest and most successful clubs, admits it’s something for players, coaches, staff and even supporters to embrace and use on the next phase of the “journey” in Leicester.
“It’s going to be a journey and we need everyone on board, rowing in the same direction,” he said.
“We are a massive club, we are one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“When we are down, we aren’t spared any boots … we have to embrace that hurt, we have to build on it and be tight as a group.
“Fans, players united and we will come back stronger.”
The DoR-in-waiting also hinted at even more additions to the playing roster ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
Where possible, we will always look to add some class into the environment,” replied Murphy when quizzed on whether further announcements were on the way.
However, for now, with the current crop of Leicester Tigers, the gaffer did express his delight – but not surprise – at the way in which his players had responded and gone “above and beyond” in the community during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“They are an incredibly good bunch of people,” added Murphy, who himself has spent days each week since lock-down calling elderly, vulnerable supporters to check-in on their well-being.
“They care about the club and care about the supporters.
“It’s really nice to see what they are doing … it’s not a surprise to me, as I know they are incredibly good people.”
Before signing off, the head coach shared his sympathies with supporters and admitted he, the coaches and players, like them, were missing the thrill and excitement that comes with a game day at Welford Road.
“From a fans point of view, I can understand how it is missed, and from our point of view it’s incredibly disappointing not to be down there on a weekly basis,” he said.
“We are looking forward to getting resolved and getting back out there “
And, in finding the positives, admitted it allowed a chance for those in the environment to “re-set the clock” in this crucial chapter of the club’s history.
“Times like this help us refocus, reset the clock and starting again.”
Watch the full interview with Murphy above on LTTV.