Phil Blake: Leicester Tigers to bring back former rugby league player as defence coach

Phil Blake played over in his native England for both Warrington and Wigan in his 15-year professional rugby league career
Phil Blake played over in his native England for both Warrington and Wigan in his 15-year professional rugby league career

Leicester Tigers are close to bringing back former rugby league player Phil Blake as the club's new defence coach.

The 55-year-old London-born Australian was initially appointed as defence coach at Welford Road in 2014.

He left in April 2015 shortly before a six-month ban from rugby for a breach of RFU betting rules. He placed eight separate bets on two Tigers games while he was coaching at the club.

"We've been looking for a defence coach," said head coach Geordan Murphy.

"Now Phil's come around and we're just sorting out the final nuts and bolts of that," he told BBC Radio Leicester.

"It's nice to have him in the country and, when we're ready to announce it, we will."

Blake was in attendance at Welford Road on Saturday in club matchday gear for the Tigers' 34-16 home win over Gloucester - a second win in three games, which lifted Murphy's previously misfiring side to sixth in the table, within four points of third place.

"It's amazing what you can buy in the club shop these days," quipped Murphy.

"We know him pretty well, we're pretty comfortable with him," he told BBC Five live. "Someone like Phil can add a bit of attitude to our defence."

Blake, who turned out for Manly, Warrington, South Sydney, Wigan, North Sydney Bears, Canberra Raiders, St George Dragons and Auckland Warriors as a player, first turned to rugby union in a coaching capacity in 2006.

After becoming defence coach for the Australian national team, he moved back to England to join Leicester under Richard Cockerill in 2014, since when he has also worked for Wasps.

Tigers boss Geordan Murphy regularly meets up with Mike Ford for a coffee
Tigers boss Geordan Murphy regularly meets up with Mike Ford for a coffee

Leicester have also been linked with former England defence coach and Bath head coach Mike Ford - father of George and Joe - but Murphy plays that down as mere speculation.

"Mike's a good mate of mine," he said. "But it's pretty much a hypothetical question. We haven't really discussed it. I'm not quite sure in what role Mike would be coming in as.

"He's very experienced in rugby and I'm lucky to have him as a friend. We meet for lots of coffees. And he's always good for pieces of advice."

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