Matt O’Connor: Leicester Tigers head coach leaves with immediate effect

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O’Connor coached at Leicester between 2010 and 2013 before leaving to take the top job at Leinster and subsequently going to work for Queensland Reds and Tonga

Leicester Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor has left the club with immediate effect.

O’Connor leaves 48 hours after Leicester lost 40-6 at Exeter in their opening Premiership game of the season.

Assistant coach and Tigers stalwart Geordan Murphy has been put in temporary charge.

Leicester missed out on a place in the Premiership play-offs for the first time in 14 seasons in May after ending the season in fifth place.

The former Australia international was in his second spell at the club, having been appointed in April 2017 – he was a coach under Richard Cockerill between 2010 and 2013.

He replaced Aaron Mauger, who had been in charge for four months after Cockerill was sacked by the 10-time Premiership champions.

“We believe the time is right to make this change in the best interests of the Tigers moving forward,” chairman Peter Tom told the club website.

“We would like to thank Matt for his hard work and commitment to the club in two spells at Welford Road, and we wish him and his family well for the future.”

O’Connor ‘lost the dressing room’

Leicester got into Exeter’s 22 just once in their defeat on Saturday – their biggest-ever opening day defeat

O’Connor was in charge of Leicester for the final three games of the 2016-17 season as the club beat Newcastle and Worcester to seal fourth place, before losing out in the play-off semi-finals by one point at Wasps.

But last season the Tigers lost nine times, with defeat at home to Newcastle in the penultimate game of the season ending any hopes of a top-four finish.

“I’m not surprised he’s been sacked,” former Leicester fly-half Bleddyn Jones told BBC Radio Leicester.

“The players weren’t on his side and you could see that on Saturday. I think he had lost the dressing room.

“His demeanour showed an air of resignation. He played players that had been injured and didn’t have match fitness.

“He didn’t look happy, but I thought they’d give him a month. But obviously, things weren’t right in the camp.”

Murphy knows Leicester’s ‘expectations and ambitions’

Geordan Murphy won 72 caps for Ireland and scored more than 650 points in more than 300 appearances for Leicester as a player

Having won eight domestic and two European titles with Leicester Murphy will have great support from the club’s supporters.

He will lead fellow coaches Mark Bakewell, Boris Stankovich and Boris Stankovich until a successor is appointed by the club.

“Leicester Tigers will always aspire to challenge for major honours in the incredibly competitive arena of professional elite club rugby and everyone at the club will fully support Geordan and the management group in driving the team forward,” Tom added in a statement.

“Geordan knows the expectations and ambitions of the Tigers as well as anyone after more than 20 years here as player and coach, and we wish him and the team the very best for the challenges ahead.”

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