Aaron Mauger: Leicester Tigers name ex-All Black as head coach

Aaron Mauger
Aaron Mauger made 53 appearances for Leicester Tigers as a player between 2007 and 2010

Former New Zealand centre Aaron Mauger is to return to Leicester Tigers as head coach on a three-year contract, starting next season.

Mauger will leave his job as assistant coach of Super 15 side Crusaders in New Zealand at the end of this campaign.

The 33-year-old, a Premiership winner with Tigers, will fill the gap left by Matt O'Connor's departure in May 2013.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill has not worked with a dedicated head coach since O'Connor joined Leinster.

Leicester Tigers commentator Bleddyn Jones, BBC Radio Leicester:
"It is a hugely important appointment as Leicester Tigers have missed Matt O'Connor and had Paul Burke fall on his sword recently. News that Aaron Mauger is coming back to the club will delight many Tigers supporters. He is of the right pedigree and I feel he will do a terrific job. He was a model professional in his time at the club as a player and his return is just what the doctor ordered as far as the Tigers' coaching staff is concerned."

"We have been looking for the right person to take on a very important job," Cockerill told the club website.external-link

Mauger, who played 45 Tests for New Zealand, made 53 appearances for the Tigers between 2007 and 2010.

He is in his third season with the Christchurch-based Crusaders, but is excited about the chance to return to Welford Road.

"I have awesome memories of my time at Leicester as a player and it is a place I will very happily return to," he said.

"I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to do that as head coach for the club and the timing is right for me to grab that opportunity."

Cockerill said last week that he was searching for a head coach to add add fresh impetus to the side, which lies fifth in the Premiership following Sunday's 26-5 win at London Welsh.

The latest coaching restructure at Welford Road came after backs coach Paul Burke left the club, having been promoted to the role just over 12 months earlier following O'Connor's move to Leinster.

"Aaron played at the highest level with club and country, and he has an excellent knowledge of the game and impressive ideas on how he wants to see it played," added Cockerill.

"He made a very valuable input during his time here as a player and has developed as a coach during his time back in New Zealand."