Leicester show no sentiment by axing Geordan Murphy
Richard Cockerill denies veteran full-back the chance to go out on a high in the Premiership final
The nearest Leicester come to sentimentality is allowing an old-stager to leave a Tuesday training session with each of his four limbs in full working order, so there was never much chance of the rugby director, Richard Cockerill, wiping a tear from his eye as he consigned Geordan Murphy to the past tense ahead of Saturday's Premiership final with Northampton.
"Geordan has done his bit," Cockerill said of the celebrated Irish full-back – the implication being that he would not be doing any more.
Murphy, the modern-day equivalent of the old-fashioned "one-club man", retires at the end of the season and has already been offered a job on the Leicester coaching staff. What he has not been offered is a place in the team for the East Midlands derby to end them all.
"If Geordan was the best player available, he'd be in the team," Cockerill said. "At the moment, his form doesn't merit that. This occasion is not about Geordan or any of the people who are leaving us: Matt O'Connor [the Leinster-bound attack coach], or Martin Castrogiovanni [the folk-hero prop]. It's about the club, and about becoming champions."
Cockerill was casting his mind back to the Premiership showpiece in 2005, when Leicester finished a distant second to Wasps. "Everyone spent the week talking about the fact that it was Martin Johnson's last game for the club, and Neil Back's too," he said. "Wasps? They kept their heads down during the build-up and won 39-14. We have to concentrate on the detail, not the emotion."
Unless something untoward happens in training, the Leicester No 15 shirt will be worn by Mathew Tait – a player with a brilliant future ahead of him rather than behind him, even though he has been around the block enough times to have been used and abused by more than one England coach and had more than his share of dark days on the injury front.
Tait's resurgence has been one of the glories of the season, to the extent that he has the look of England's 2015 World Cup full-back about him. Was Cockerill surprised that the red rose coach Stuart Lancaster declined to pick him for the forthcoming Test series in Argentina?
"Actually, I think it's a blessing in disguise for Mathew," the former hooker replied. "Everyone knows how good he can be. The important thing for him now is that he concentrates on building his game, keeping himself together physically and maintaining the robust approach we're seeing from him at the moment. If he does that and keeps playing the way he is, there could be something for him with England next season."
Leaving aside a couple of long-term casualties, most notably the lock Louis Deacon, the Tigers go into this last hurrah with a clean bill of health.
Adam Thompstone is fit and will contest the left-wing berth with the Fijian strike runner Vereniki Goneva. So too is the second-rower Ed Slater, one of Lancaster's uncapped recruits for the Argentina tour.
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