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Run-in provides lessons for coach O'Connor

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Matt O'Connor says he has learned some valuable lessons in the six weeks since his arrival at Leicester Tigers.

Head coach O’Connor returned for a second spell with the club at the beginning of April, leading Tigers to league wins over Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors in the final three rounds of the Aviva Premiership season before losing a semi-final by a single point at Wasps last weekend.
Though disappointed that the season ended without a return to Twickenham in the Premiership Final after sharing in three title wins in his previous time with the club, O’Connor paid tribute to the work of the players and the staff in his time in charge so far.
“The playing group has been phenomenal,” he said in the aftermath of Saturday’s semi-final which Wasps won with a try in the 78th minute.
“The leadership around Tom Youngs and guys like Ben Youngs, Dan Cole and the other senior guys has carried the fortunes of the club this year. The character and resilience of the playing group, the coaching staff and the backroom staff has been second to none in keeping that stability and making sure everybody is working as hard as they can.
“There were a couple of things we really prioritised and wanted to get better at, and we made some big growth in those areas. The buy-in and the work by the players to make those adjustments has been first class.”
O’Connor says the work over the last weeks of the season can pay dividends when the players and staff return to work after their close-season break.
“A lot of people in the environment here were involved when I was here previously and from that view it is quite easy to build on that and to make the adjustments and understand that we are working as hard as we can to deliver on the expectation here,” he said. “They are Leicester Tigers people, they have won a lot of trophies, they have a lot of experience here.
“The opportunity I have had in the last six weeks to have a look – at the coalface – has taught me a lot. We will come back in a good place.
“It has been a huge advantage for me coming in now and building into next season and getting some of the detail before we come into pre-season so we can hit the ground running again for next season.”