Matt O'Connor happy to leave Leicester Tigers legacy

Matt O'Connor and Richard Cockerill (right)

Aviva Premiership final: Leicester v Northampton

Saturday, 25 May
Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio Northampton, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Outgoing Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor says the occasional clash of personalities with director of rugby Richard Cockerill has had a positive influence at Welford Road.

O'Connor will leave the Tigers after Saturday's Premiership final with Northampton to take over at Leinster.

However, he has enjoyed working with Cockerill - despite the squabbles.

"The thing that always brings it back to square one is we want to win," O'Connor told BBC Radio Leicester.

He added: "We have fights because we both genuinely believe that we have to get the best out it.

"The success of the club, the team, the good of the place has always been the thing we've been fighting over.

"Sometimes there's different ways to get to that, but at the end of the day we're all really confident the best decisions have been made."

Cockerill promoted the 42-year-old to head coach in July 2010, having himself held the post following the departure of Heyneke Meyer the previous year.

With Leicester now facing a ninth consecutive Premiership final appearance, five of which have been under Cockerill's command, O'Connor has been part of a rugby union dynasty with Tigers since his arrival as backs coach in 2008.

His affection for the city, the region and notably the club has been key to his loyalty - until the opportunity to take over at Leinster was offered over in Dublin.

"Very special environments are few and far between and this is genuinely one of those from a rugby perspective," he added.

"There are very few places like this and that's why we've been here so long as we have, we've dragged it out as long as we could to maximise every moment of it.

"It's been fantastic and it will be tough to say goodbye."

East Midlands rivals Northampton will add extra interest to the season's domestic showpiece, having stunned Saracens away from home in the semi-finals.

Tigers' thumping 36-8 victory at Saints' Franklin's Gardens in March was evidence of their championship credentials, although it took a Matt Smith try to seal a close-fought victory in the home game last November.

"I think it's no surprise that some of our best performances over the last few seasons have been against Northampton, because of the respect levels for their places and coaches," O'Connor added.

"We know that we have to bring our best performance if we're going to win - our very top-end performance - and if we do that I think the boys have shown historically that there's very few teams that can beat us.

"If you don't bring your best performance you throw a cat amongst the pigeons and you can lose, as we've shown the last two seasons.

"I'm pretty confident the boys will make sure they're as good as they can be and we should be able to get the right result."

You can hear the full interview with Matt O'Connor on the Leicester Tigers Rugby Show at 18:00 BST on Wednesday on BBC Radio Leicester.

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