The Leicester Tigers appear to be closing in on a replacement for Richard Cockerill, after the Leicester Mercury reported that Matt O’Connor is now to favourite to take over at Welford Road next season.
The 46-year-old Australian had enjoyed four successful years at the Tigers after being appointed as backs coach by Heyneke Meyer, and was subsequently promoted to head coach in 2010 when Cockerill was given the reigns as Director of Rugby.
During O’Connor’s time at the club, the Tigers claimed Premiership titles in 2010 and 2013, and were the league’s top try scoring team in three of the four seasons between 2009/10 and 2012/13. However, his success drew the attention of Leinster, who appointed the Australian as head coach after Joe Schmidt took up the position as Ireland coach.
Despite claiming a Pro12 title in his first season, a disappointing second campaign saw O’Connor sacked in May 2015 after Leinster failed to qualify for the league’s play-offs.
The straight-talking Australian was subsequently employed by the Queensland Reds as attack coach in 2016, before being appointed as co-interim head coach alongside Nick Stiles just two games into the Super Rugby season.
However, after Stiles was handed the role on a full-time basis ahead of the 2017 campaign, O’Connor parted company with Reds. His availability has seemingly stoked the interest of the Tigers who are continuing to search for someone that will return the club to the top of English rugby.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena