Cockerill: No room for sentiment in final
May 21, 2013
Geordan Murphy will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill is adamant they will not be distracted by any notion of sentiment when they come face-to-face with the Northampton Saints in Saturday's Aviva Premiership final.
Several of the Tigers are departing at the end of the season but Leicester are fully focused on this weekend's finale against local rivals Northampton as they aim to finally reclaim the trophy having lost in the last two Twickenham showpieces.
Captain Geordan Murphy is retiring to join the coaching staff, prop Martin Castrogiovanni is leaving after seven years, head coach Matt O'Connor is heading to Leinster and a number of other members of the playing staff will be saying goodbye including scrum-half Micky Young and fly-half George Ford.
Saturday's match will therefore be the end of an era but Cockerill insists now is not the time to get emotional. "Geordan will be there on Saturday," said the Tigers' director of rugby. "He'll be coaching if he's not involved in the 23.
"For Matt O'Connor, Martin, Geordan and a few others it will be their last appearance from a playing point of view or coaching point of view. But we've just got to focus on the game. We'll worry about the sentiment about guys leaving afterwards, good or bad.
"So we just have to make sure we get our training right, our attitude right, get the result and then we can talk about how good these guys have been for us afterwards."
Leicester, who are optimistic both Ed Slater and Adam Thompstone will be fit for Saturday, will be overwhelming favourites to beat Northampton and win the Premiership trophy for the first time since 2010. However, Saints showed in their semi-final win over Saracens they cannot be taken lightly.
"The one thing you can't underestimate about Saints is their physicality," said Cockerill. "If you look at Soane Tonga'uiha, Dylan Hartley, Brian Mujati, Samu Manoa, Courtney Lawes, they have some real big hitters in there. So we know we have to match their physicality. But to be fair, they will be saying the same about Leicester.
"The match-ups are pretty good across the board. At half-back and in midfield they've got some big hitters and ball-carriers, a big threat in the back three and likewise for ourselves. We're pretty well matched. I know we've had the rub of the green the last few times we've played them but that can easily change - and we've got to make sure that doesn't change at the weekend."
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