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Matt O'Connor tells Leicester Tigers' senior players to 'step up'

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Departing head coach Matt O'Connor has told the Leicester Tigers' senior players that they must "drive the club forward" next season.

The Australian began his new job as boss of Irish province Leinster on Monday after five hugely successful seasons at Welford Road.

He left Tigers as champions of England, and with a strong and experienced group of players at the core of the side who have grown up under his leadership.

Paul Burke and Geordan Murphy will take over the role of backs coaches next season, but O'Connor believes the players that have driven Tigers' style of play must "step up" too.

"There is a good core of senior blokes that have a really good understanding of the game at Leicester," said O'Connor.

"And they need to take their own game to another level. I would like to see those guys, without me, take that ownership on.

"I certainly think those players need to step up.

"Burkey and Geordy – and Richard Blaze with the forwards – have the utmost respect of that group.

"That's important in terms of getting ownership of that group of players. Now they all need to drive the club forward."

O'Connor admitted it was a group of players and coaching staff he would miss being around.

"Tigers have been a huge part of my life," he said. "There are a lot of footy teams around but there are not many special environments – this has been one of those.

"It's hard to leave but it's the best thing for me coaching-wise at this point, and I hope it won't impact on the players or the club. I will miss them all."

O'Connor hopes being Leinster coach will boost his long-term chances of landing a top international job in the future.

"Being involved at Leicester and Leinster is a good grounding to go down the international route – so we'll see what develops," he said.

Matt O'Connor tells Leicester Tigers' senior players to 'step up'


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