He’s been a popular figure at Welford Road for more than 20 years, but the affection felt for Geordan Murphy would still sky-rocket if he matched his success as a player in his career as a coach.
Murphy is interim head coach following the exit of Matt O’Connor, and the club have said that he will be given every support to make a success of it. As Geordan told the media on his first day in the role, “every coach is interim, just some of them don’t have the word in the title”.
His first task is to prepare a team for the opening home game of the season, against a Newcastle Falcons side led by former colleague and former boss Dean Richards.
It’ll make for an interesting conversation on the touchline, especially against the background of the team’s first league outing at home soil since Newcastle knocked Tigers out of the reckoning for Premiership semi-final places at the end of last season.
Geordan, who arrived at Tigers back in 1997, acknowledges the part Dean played in getting his own career started, giving him his big break as a player as the Irishman quickly became a big favourite on the way to more than 300 appearances, eight league titles and back-to-back European Cup crowns.
Deano himself got his break as boss when another Aussie, Bob Dwyer, departed at the back-end of the ’90s. An absolute legend as a player and an undoubted leader of men, Richards had no coaching background, but look what happened next – seven trophies in four golden years as Tigers topped the rankings both domestically and in Europe.
Pat Howard and Richard Cockerill also had their first experience in the hot-seat at Tigers after playing for the club. Both also enjoyed success.
In Cockerill’s case, as he has noted on many occasions, he rose through the ranks through circumstance as well as ability. First, he was in charge when Marcelo left, then when Heyneke left, and then he made the job his own on the back of results and performance, and the club enjoyed more success along the way. Cockers had to learn the job in situ, listen to the experience around him, take the staff on the journey with him, and rely on the players once they’d crossed the white line.
A thread running through all of that was the presence of Geordan Murphy.
Brought in under Dwyer, a star turn under Richards, Wells and Howard, then skipper under Cockerill, Geordie now finds himself in the hot-seat. He has said publicly that it is a “dream job” for someone who loves the club as much as he does, though he understandably wants to go one step at a time at this point. He takes him with the very best wishes of those who’ve followed his career so keenly so far.