Cockerill plays down Lancaster spat
May 21, 2012
Tigers boss Richard Cockerill has played down talk of a rift between him and England coach Stuart Lancaster © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill insists he has settled his differences with England coach Stuart Lancaster after the duo had a very public falling out last week over the fitness of fly-half Toby Flood.
Flood was to have his injured ankle seen by England physio Phil Pask last week at Lancaster's request, but Cockerill refused the visit insisting the player's injury remains a club matter. But, speaking today, he said he and Lancaster had met and talked the issue through, finding a better way of dealing with future matters in the process.
"Me and Stu didn't have a bust-up," he told Press Association Sport. "We met last week and had a discussion about how we will handle things in the future. I get on with Stu. We have a good relationship. We had a difference of opinion, which is okay. We had a healthy discussion and worked out a way of dealing with things moving forward."
His relationship with Lancaster is not Cockerill's priority, though, as he is preparing for this Saturday's Aviva Premiership final with Harlequins and is naturally hoping his playmaker will be available. Flood's Twickenham participation remains unknown, with teenage rookie George Ford standing by, and Cockerill would not be drawn today, only adding: "Floody is working hard and improving day by day."
Saturday's clash with Quins will be Leicester's eighth successive final appearance and their 12th out of the last 14. Such consistency is rarely seen in sport, but Cockerill claims the values of his club mean failure is never an option.
Even when they languished in 11th place early in the season with a large part of their squad away on World Cup duty, the 41-year-old former Tigers hooker never wavered in his belief that they would turn their form around. "I was confident we could get the season back on track," he said. "To what degree, I never knew.
"Normally, we have a good start to the season and can afford a slip-up here or there. But having lost six of the first seven games, there was no opportunity to lose. We had to pretty much win every game and that's what we have done barring one. The turnaround has been good. Was I sure it would be this good? I could never say that, but I will take it."
Leicester head to Twickenham in sterling form. They have won their last 11 games in all competitions and certainly seem play-off ready. For Cockerill, that is one of the traits of a side that expects success. "We pride ourselves on being consistent and obviously eight finals speaks for itself," he said.
"We've been in 12 finals in 14 years and we're a very consistent club. But finals are for winning and that's the key this weekend. The expectation here is that you have to be good and the club, across the board, doesn't suffer fools lightly.
"If you're not good enough, you move on - whether you're a player, coach or on the backroom staff. You have to be the highest quality to be here. That's the way the club is run and why it's been successful."
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