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Richard Cockerill tells Leicester Tigers head coach Matt O'Connor to take Leinster job


Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill has told head coach Matt O'Connor to take the vacant Leinster job if it is offered to him.

Cockerill was the first club official to comment on growing rumours linking the 42-year-old Aussie to the post in Dublin, after it became available when Joe Schmidt was named the new Ireland boss on Monday.

Cockerill said he would be sad to see O'Connor leave after five years with Leicester, but admitted that it would be an ideal move for someone who hopes to coach his country one day. "Matt has had an approach from Leinster," said Cockerill.

"I am not sure whether that is all signed and sealed but it is pretty far down the road.

"If that is a concrete offer, I think Matt will take it.

"They are a great club and it's a credit to this environment that they are interested in Matt.

"When he came here, nobody knew much about him but he has had five very good years here, coached exceptionally well and this side would not have done half as well as it has done without him.

"To get the head coach's role at Leinster is probably too much for him to turn down.

"He spoke to me about it and I said to him that, if they offer it to you, take it. It's a great opportunity.

"He wants to coach at Test level and wants to coach Australia at some point, which is probably the next step for him.

"If he can prove he can be in charge of a big club side, I would be very surprised if, in the near future, Matt wasn't in contention for the Australia job.

"We are all disappointed that Matt may leave, but that's life. He has done a fantastic job here. He will be my friend for a lifetime and, some time, partnerships come to an end.

"If that happens, we will find someone else. It will be different and a lot less noisy in the office – and my language will be a lot better too!"

Tigers will have to put talk of departing head coaches and British & Irish Lions to one side as they prepare for a return to the Aviva Premiership on Saturday after a week off.

London Irish arrive with nothing to play for but pride as Tigers seek a victory that will secure them a home semi-final in the play-offs.

Cockerill reported few injury worries and said he would be putting out his "best side".

"It's a must-win game for us because we have to be at home in the semi-finals," he said.

"They are a dangerous side. We will treat them with the respect they deserve."

Tigers lock Ed Slater has been named as the Aviva Premiership's Player of the Month for March.

The 24-year-old was in superb form for the club during big games against the likes of Exeter and Northampton.

Bath have confirmed the signing of George Ford and Mickey Young from Tigers.

Bath head coach Gary Gold said: "George is an exceptionally talented young player, and we are very much looking forward to him joining us here."

Richard Cockerill tells Leicester Tigers head coach Matt O'Connor to take Leinster job

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