In a LTTV exclusive, Pat Howard explains his new role at the club after coming on board over the summer and shares insights into his review of Leicester Tigers.
From the historic Welford Road terrace, where Tigers supporters watched Howard as a Leicester player and then teams he led as both head coach and director of rugby, the club legend discusses the recommendations he made and role he now has in implementing those changes alongside Geordan Murphy.
“The Board asked me a little while ago to come and do a review and look at the playing side of the game more than anything else,” Howard told LTTV.
“I did the review, wrote it down and then they asked me to implement the recommendations.
“It has been a really interesting process.”
Howard’s role is not a hands-on coaching position, which he admits has not been easy to play after years in leading roles as both player and coach for Tigers.
“I try not to get right into the granularity of talking to players and coaches but, look, it’s in my blood so I apologise when I do do that and annoy people,” he said.
A former team-mate and then coach of current head coach Murphy, Howard acknowledged the role the now Tigers boss was thrust into was a “difficult” one but confident the growth he had seen was positive and would “benefit” the club moving forward.
“As an interim coach … that’s a really difficult position to be in,” he said.
“Giving him the authority to act and take control and I have got to tell you, behind the scenes he has done a brilliant job at it.
“That is a really interesting coaching opportunity and we will see the benefit of that long term.”
A major aspect of Howard’s review was the recommendation of more clarity and alignment between the club’s leaders, from the boardroom to the training pitch, which he calls the ‘Five Cs’.
“One of the things we talk about is the ‘Five Cs’ and the spine of the organisation, which effectively goes from chairman down to the captain, and making sure every decision from the change room to the board room is connected,” said Howard.
“There is still a long way to go on that as well, but the connection of those ‘Five Cs’ is really, really important.”
In response to criticism that the club has not looked outside of the organisation enough, the former head of high performance for both Australian Rugby and Cricket, said: “Sometimes we latch onto history rather than what makes you different, your competitive advantage.”
“Then you have still got to have that outside influence, you have got to go outside and look at different things.”
He also acknowledged that there was no quick fix and it would take time for Murphy to “mould” the squad into his own.
“This isn’t Geordie’s squad, this is different people that have come in over the years,” said Howard.
“He has got to get the best out of that, there is no excuses, but I am sure over time he will mould it into his way and his people over the longer term.”
The former European Cup winning Tiger also shared some of the key goals of the club this season, based on his recommendations.
“We have been very clear on this,” Howard told LTTV.
“It’s about getting in the top half this year, making sure we’re back in Europe next year, and then look, confidence is an amazing thing, it builds and it grows, and you steal a game from somewhere and collect points, and look anything is possible.”
Giving him the authority to act and take control and I have got to tell you, behind the scenes he has done a brilliant job at it.Pat Howard on Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy
The former Tigers boss was also boosted by the depth being created in affording new additions, as well as younger and less experienced members of the squad time in the senior team with internationals away at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“It’s also a World Cup year and there are a lot of players missing so it says there is a lot of talent missing,” he said.
“On a full strength day, I don’t think anybody questions that and I think this environment now, with the quality of player that is already on the books, I think you should expect some great performances.
“This is the second string guys and we want them to take their chance … the door is ajar and I said this only to one player this week, the door is ajar, kick it down.
“Own this time and own this space.
“Do what a Tom Croft or a Ben Youngs or a Tom Youngs did ten, twelve years ago and you will see some great players come through this period.”
Watch the full interview with Pat Howard above on LTTV.