In Episode 2 of LTTV Weekly, Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy and club captain Tom Youngs to update supporters on how the club continues to navigate the postponement period, discuss the positive response from players and staff in their efforts during the challenging time and respond to questions to clear up some misconceptions in recent media reports about the club.
The duo also discuss recruitment and retention ahead of the 2020/21 season, including already confirmed additions and rumours doing the rounds regarding Leicester players, and chat about the efforts of current players, staff and the club in the community to support the NHS, season ticket holders and supporters during this challenging time, as well as the Tigers Classic matches that have been available online for fans in recent weeks.
“We talk about the things people do when you are not being watched, the guys have gone out in a race where we don’t know where the finish line sits and they are attacking their training."Geordan Murphy
Speaking about living in the lockdown, Youngs told LTTV: “It’s all right, we have got to do the right thing to help people in this situation. It is challenging at times. It’s funny how it takes time to adjust, but I’m training hard and doing bits and pieces.
“When you rely on others to pick you up in a team, you learn a new skill in driving yourself forward and pushing yourself when there is no one there. It’s a good thing for the boys to learn.”
Murphy, when asked about the challenges for him and his coaching staff, added: “The guys have been hugely impressive."
“We talk about the things people do when you are not being watched, the guys have gone out in a race where we don’t know where the finish line sits and they are attacking their training and sending us footage.”
In response to questions on recent media reports regarding the players and their ongoing conversations with the club, Murphy said: “Guys were slightly confused in the beginning and everyone sought advice, we have tried to keep them playing group involved.
“This week there have been Zoom calls with the Chairman, chief executive, chief operating officer and myself with the playing group.
“We had really constructive conversations with every member of the squad involved. Everyone had their opportunity to comment, we want to work on this together.”
Tigers skipper Youngs added: “From the playing group it has always been about helping the club through this time.
“But it had to be regarding us understanding what it entails and implies.
“We have had a good dialogue this week and really good questions have been answered, and answers have been given to give a clear understanding of what it is all about. This is about the whole club, players and staff, everyone being into it to make sure the club survives this tough time.”
In response to suggestions that a lawyer had been engaged to act on the players’ behalf, Youngs told LTTV: “We never engaged a lawyer. No lawyer was in any Zoom call.
“Some guys may have gone to get information. Greg Bateman and Ellis Genge have been mentioned in there, they have been brilliant in their work. Greg is the RPA rep, he’s getting information and getting it to the player group so we can get a clear picture of how this is all working. They have done a fantastic job.”
As director of rugby in-waiting, Murphy also clarified the efforts of the club in assisting all players and staff through this unprecedented period.
“All staff have taken a cut, we have had a threshold we thought was reasonable and also created a hardship fund for anyone affected, not necessarily the lowest paid,” he said.
“All the players and staff have the ability to access that fund. It is a great thing the club has done to look after our people.”
"We have had a good dialogue this week and really good questions have been answered, and answers have been given to give a clear understanding of what it is all about."Tom Youngs
Murphy also touched on the impressive support of the club’s fans during this time, some of whom he has spoken to personally as part of the #MakeThatCall campaign.
“One of the most impressive things is how supportive people have been. Fans sitting at home locked down are really keen to get back to Welford Road and are very supportive of us,” he said.
In response to the announcement that Guy Thompson will depart the club, Murphy and Youngs thanked the back-rower for his contribution and discussed the opportunities for youngsters making their way through the ranks as well as Steve Borthwick’s appointment as head coach role.
“Things do not get fixed overnight. Steve is a great addition, him and Geordan will lead the ship very well I’m sure,” said Youngs.
"It’s funny how it takes time to adjust, but I’m training hard and doing bits and pieces"Tom Youngs
As well addressing confirmed additions and departures, Murphy responded to questions on reports that Jonah Holmes is in the sights of the Welsh Rugby Union.
“Jonah has spoken to the WRU and they have made it their goal to get as many of their top 38 players back to play in their provinces as possible,” Murphy said.
“We do not stand in anyone’s way but he is under contract and we will do what is best for the Tigers. He is contracted to Tigers and we’ll see how that progresses.”
The pair also discussed the premature retirement of former Tigers player Will Hurrell and new coaching appointments in the game for former Leicester duo John Wells and Richard Blaze, plus their enjoyment of Tigers Classic matches being broadcast on LTTV and BT Sport during this period without any live rugby.
“I’ve watched them all, it’s great to watch them back, some good memories and history,” Youngs told LTTV.
Watch the full episode of LTTV Weekly above.