In the latest edition of LTTV Weekly, Director of Rugby in-waiting Geordan Murphy and Head of Elite Performance Recruitment Jan McGinity chat about the latest news out of Tigers HQ.
Following a week that included the announcement of two senior coaching appointments, new deals for seven members of the squad and confirmation of the young men making the step up to senior rugby next season from the title winning Tigers Academy squad.
The duo also discuss the Class of 2020, confirmed on Monday afternoon, and why the decisions were made to part ways with the players included on the list, as well as the retirement of Jimmy Stevens from professional rugby.
“We go through these numbers every year,” Murphy told LTTV.
“The guys leaving have given their all for Tigers and we are grateful for that but people move on in professional sport … we are trying to build and move in a new direction and we are really focused on that.
“The harsh reality is the club has been 11th for consecutive seasons, we have to make changes. We have not been good enough, we need to start a new journey.”
McGinity, the man in charge of recruitment at the club, added: “Sometimes tough decisions have to be made.”
“In this time there is a lot of uncertainty and it is tough to inform individuals they are no longer going to be part of the journey … Geordan wanted to change the squad and Steve Borthwick has certain thoughts as well.
“We want guys to be here for a long time, but in some instances we need to change that dynamic.”
“But you go back to the things that make Leicester Tigers very good, these guys will drive that and it will be an exciting journey but I am confident we will be on the right track"Geordan Murphy
In response to questions about the additions of Rob Taylor to lead the side’s attack and Aled Walters, who was part of the Springboks coaching team who won the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as Head of Physical Performance.
“This is something we have been involved in for a while,” said Murphy. “We have been looking for the right man for Tigers.”
“We had a long list, we got down and did interview process and he had a good feel. Rob is going to be a huge player in regards to the way we are going to go.”
McGinity, speaking about the addition of Walters, added: “When you are looking at potentially bringing in new faces, you look at what is your DNA and all the best aspects you can take from others.”
“We had a similar list of 10, whittled it down and he was the standout candidate. There are similarities with Scarlets and Munster, and I think in that role we are trying to get the best 1 per cent out of individuals.”
Murphy believes the balance in the coaching room is now the best it has been in his time.
“The exciting thing for me around the coaching team is that pod of experience, Steve Borthwick is one of the best international coaches, Mike Ford has coached at the highest levels, Aled comes from winning a World Cup,” he said.
“Throw all that into a pot with Brett and Boris, and we have got more than enough in there to make us successful.”
After making the comment that it was a “new look Leicester Tigers” earlier in the week, Murphy reiterated the reasons for change.
“We have not been good enough, we needed to change,” said Murphy.
“My aspiration for the Tigers is to be back to the top of the table and back to winning things. That does not happen automatically.
“But you go back to the things that make Leicester Tigers very good, these guys will drive that and it will be an exciting journey but I am confident we will be on the right track.”
McGinity added: “Geordan inherited a situation, a lot of which he could not change.”
“It takes time to make changes. We have hopefully got some stability to allow Geordan to have that time.
“In some regards Geordan has been firefighting but it is just the start of this journey. We want success in the long term but it takes time to establish those foundations.”
With an overwhelmingly positive response to the two coaching appointments online, from fans and those outside the Tigers environment, Murphy responded to questions about the perceived enjoyment of many on the outside of the club not achieving success it has previously.
“If teams do not like you, you are doing your job well,” Murphy said.
“That is always something Tigers did well. We have had periods of success, we have to get back there and people are taking a real pleasure in giving us some stick.”
Supporters have also called for more additions to the squad, which Murphy responded to by adding: “We are not finished yet … we have some more additions to make.
“The squad is strong.”
The Head of Recruitment also discussed the inevitable need for squad sizes to drop, as well as the need for more versatile options in your side to be successful across campaigns in a season.
“The size of squads is coming down, mainly because of inflation in players’ wages. We’re looking at 37-38 senior players next years, even last year was 45 – 46 before Denton retirement,” he said.
Murphy and McGinity spoke at length about the recent renewals for Johnny McPhillips and five members of the club’s Development Squad, before sharing their thoughts on the six ‘Cubs’ who will make the step up to the senior programme from academy rugby - and the process of which to select those players and key individuals involved.
“There is great potential in guys, they showed a great attitude in the U18 League, the way they worked and attacked every training session,” said the soon-to-be Director of Rugby.
“It is going to be difficult, it is not an easy road, they have to work harder again next year.
“It’s a little bit of forward planning and we are conscious if we see gaps to fill we would like to fill them from within. We want to give guys opportunity and want them in our environment."
“We need to win more, we want them to walk in with a smile on their face … we are privileged working for the biggest club in the country, but I want some fun doing it too"Jan McGinity
McGinity also shared an insight for supporters into his role at the club and looked back on his debut season at Welford Road.
I am just excited, I came in June last year, had different experiences, just want to help move the club forward,” said McGinity.
“This is probably the first opportunity to try to help shape and give support to Geordan and the coaches moving forward.
“We have brought in a few players to add to certain squad but we need to make the squad better.
“We need to win more, we want them to walk in with a smile on their face … we are privileged working for the biggest club in the country, but I want some fun doing it too.”
In addition to those announcements made this week, they also shared their thoughts on the most high profile recruit ahead of next season, Steve Borthwick.
“We went out a little while ago setting our sights on the best possible head coach and I’m excited that Steve is that guy,” said Murphy.
“He has great experience, is an incredibly impressive guy, he’s really honest and hard working, I’m excited to get him here and settled in.”
In response to recent criticism, the pair also share insights into working with the Tigers Board and their support in helping put together the coaching team and playing squads for the future, as well as discussing the impact of the current pandemic on the game of rugby its finances, the re-focus from the club on developing players along the pathway and chatted about a timeline for return to action for clubs.
Watch the full edition of LTTV Weekly above on LTTV.