Mark Bakewell says he feels “honoured” to be part of Leicester Tigers and has now charged the playing squad with making their own history at the club.
Bakewell, who has a coaching career spanning more than 20 years in Australia, France, Japan and England, including spells with Bath and Bristol, started work as the new Tigers forwards coach last week and was involved in matchday for the first time against Harlequins in Saturday.
“The forwards coach role at Leicester Tigers is one of the highest-profile jobs you can get,” he said. “You look at forwards coaching roles around the world and to coach the Leicester forward pack is right up there in tier one.
“I remember the battles with Bath down at The Rec when I was there were phenomenal. I loved it. It’s what I am all about. I always had the utmost respect for the Leicester pack, team and club.
“The club is 20 minutes from where rugby originated. It typifies what rugby is about.”
Bakewell has got straight down to work with the playing squad, working closely with head coach Matt O’Connor and with assistants Brett Deacon and Boris Stankovich.
“There is plenty to work on, but I think coaching is all about the 80/20 balance,” he said. “At the top end, everyone is doing the 80-90 per cent, but the teams that are most successful do the last 10-20 very well.
“It is an honour to be here and I’m going to enjoy it. You cannot take those things for granted. Playing in the Leicester jersey, you have to earn your right. I think that is probably my mantra to the players – do not take it for granted and be honoured to be here.
“No one is entitled to wear this jersey – you have to earn it. The way I look at it is I have earned the chance to get in the front door – but now I want to earn more.
“I say to the players ‘You create your own legacy, think what have you have done, what have you achieved’. That is big for me.”
Bakewell has worked with the Australia national squad under three head coaches and also includes All Blacks boss Steve Hansen as a big influence on his career so far.
“I’ve only had a week here and I am still finding my way but there is an element of toughness in this whole environment that I like,” he said.
“I want to make a difference. I do not want to pass through the Leicester gates and not make a difference.”