Matt O'Connor: Leicester Tigers have to shut out the 'noise', says head coach

Tigers' 39-0 defeat against Castres in the south of France was their first nilling since losing 43-0 to Glasgow Warriors in the Anglo-Welsh Cup almost a year ago
Tigers' 39-0 defeat against Castres in the south of France was their first nilling since losing 43-0 to Glasgow Warriors in the Anglo-Welsh Cup almost a year ago

Head coach Matt O'Connor says Leicester Tigers need to keep their belief and shut out the criticism following their alarming recent run of results.

The 2001 and 2002 European champions crashed out of the Champions Cup, losing 39-0 at Castres last weekend.

Under-fire Tigers have also won just once in six league games to slump to eighth in the Premiership table.

"The noise outside the environment is something you can't control," O'Connor told BBC Radio Leicester.

"The truly important part is that the guys in the environment have a form of belief and clarity about what we're doing

"It's not as good as we'd like it to be, which is frustrating and disappointing and all those emotions.

"But you can't do anything about it except work harder and make sure you get it right at the weekend."

The chase for a Champions Cup place

Having failed to reach the last eight in Europe for the second season running, Tigers will wrap up their group campaign this Sunday at home to Racing 92, who ended their last genuine hope at more European glory at the semi-final stage at the City Ground, Nottingham in 2016.

But, of more importance, is securing another tilt at European top-flight rugby next season over this season's nine remaining rounds of Premiership action.

Champions Cup Pool Four
TeamPlayedWonDrawnLostForAgainstBonus PtsPoints
Munster531111984216
Racing 92530210585315
Castres5212108113212
Leicester51059814826

Leicester are currently in eighth, on 32 points, four adrift of Newcastle, in sixth - the last of the automatic qualification places for next season's Champions Cup.

And, once their European campaign is finally done with, they then embark on a key month of four Premiership games.

At a time when the Six Nations is starting and they can, at the very least, expect to be without England quartet Dan Cole, Ben Youngs, George Ford and Jonny May, they must host ninth-placed Harlequins and play three away games - to fourth-placed Gloucester, title-chasing Saracens and relegation contenders Worcester.

First-team restructuring?

One area Leicester are looking at as they prepare for next season, and try to calm their worried supporters' fears, is a review of their whole first-team coaching structure.

Having still not replaced forwards coach Richard Blaze, who left the club a few weeks into the season, O'Connor is hoping to have some "clarity" by the end of January.

"Potentially we're looking at that whole group around the environment and what's the best for us moving forward," he said.

"It's given us a chance to sit down and look at things quite critically. Hopefully, we'll have better clarity in the next couple of weeks."

Matt O'Connor was talking to BBC Radio Leicester's Martin Ballard.

Top Stories