Cockerill makes fine case for inside job

Leicester 24 Gloucester 10
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The Independent Online

Possession being nine-tenths of the law, Richard Cockerill is in a useful position. He is the man in charge, on account of Heyneke Meyer returning prematurely to South Africa, and as long as Leicester keep winning, who knows? If the Tigers squad respect and respond to him, the board may decide not to pay a small fortune to bring in an outsider. And whatever else Cockerill is, he's no outsider.

A former member of an infamous Leicester front row, "Cockers" as he's known – he may sound like something out of Best in Show at Crufts but he makes Vinnie Jones look like a toy poodle – is at home at Welford Road. He's still as rough as hell around the edges but then so was Dean Richards, another local hero, who emerged from the pack to be top dog before the special relationship turned sour.

When Cockerill gave his after-match talk following the convincing victory over top of the table Gloucester, Peter Tom, chairman of Leicester and the new chairman of Premier Rugby in place of Gloucester's Tom Walkinshaw, was hanging on his every word.

Yes, Cockers said he would like the chance to be given the job on a long-term basis but that he would also be quite happy to serve under whoever Leicester opted to bring in. Apparently Sir Clive Woodward, who is on the board at Welford Road, has sounded out Andy Robinson, formerly of England now at Edinburgh, for the post.

"This is my club," Cockerill declared, although Tom, hovering in the background might possibly have disagreed. "I just want to make things work until the end of the season. There's no ego here. I love my job. I think I'm capable of doing it." Of course he would covet the post. Any coach worth his salt would consider it, not least because Leicester, who are building an impressive new stand, have the biggest crowds in the Guinness Premiership and the most clout.

On Saturday, two of the strongest squads in the land (both were missing key players) fronted up in a war of attrition and towards the end of the first half and for the entirety of the second, Leicester took such control that Julien Dupuy, the Frenchman understudying Harry Ellis, had 10 shots at goal, scoring with seven.

Gloucester, whose defence was excellent, scored the only try – an interception by Iain Balshaw – but they were under the cosh after losing Rory Lawson and Alex Brown to the sin-bin. With the penalty count hammering them, they could do nothing about Dupuy's boot, nor the spectacular drop goal at the end, from inside his own half, by Geordan Murphy.

Leicester: Penalties Dupuy 7; Drop Goal G Murphy. Gloucester: Try Balshaw; Conversion Barkley; Penalty Barkley.

Leicester: Murphy; Hamilton, Smith, Mauger, Tuilagi; Vesty, Dupuy; Ayerza, Kayser (Davies, 73), White (Castrogiovanni, 58), Deacon, Kay (Wentzel, 53), Croft, Woods, Pienaar.

Gloucester: Morgan; Balshaw, Trinder, Barkley, Sharples (Foster, 72); Spencer, Lawson; Wood (Nieto, 67), Azam, Somerville, Eustace (Bortolami, 50), Brown, Narraway, Hazell (Strokosch, 57), Delve.

Referee: W Barnes.

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