Cockerill: ‘We need to help Manu’

Date published: May 17 2015

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill addressed how the club would punish Manu Tuilagi after their play-off clinching win over Northampton.

Tuilagi was found guilty of assaulting a police officer this week and has been left out of England's planning for the Rugby World Cup as a result.

The powerful centre is still rehabilitating from his injury problems and Cockerill outlined the club's course of action going forward.

"When I spoke to Manu about this, the first thing he said was 'I was wrong, I will take the punishment'. He has never tried to get away from his responsibility or make excuses for himself," Cockerill told the Press Association.

"He can't behave like that, we know that. He has been punished by the courts, he has been punished by England. I want to find out exactly the findings of the court and what he actually did and what he was convicted of, and then I will decide what I do with him. 

"I will speak to the [Leicester] chairman and the chief executive, and we will have that discussion. There is a lot of hysteria around it, rightly so in some ways, and he knows you can't behave like that.

"He is a young man growing up in the public eye. Young people do stupid things, and he has done a very stupid thing. We all grow up and you make mistakes, young and old. I am not going to excuse him for how he has behaved. I can empathise, but I am not going to make light of it. Stuart has made his decision, and I support that.

"I am not excusing his behaviour, but we all know Manu is a better bloke than that and I don't want him to be portrayed as this certain individual, because I don't think that is completely fair on him.

"He needs to put that right, but I think we need to support him as well. He will get fit and he will play for the club again.

"We need to help him, not just cut him adrift and let him read all the press and the whole thing is sat on top of him. We need to help him, and so do England, to make sure he comes through this and is a better person for the experience."

Victory over Saints means that Leicester will face Bath in next week's Premiership semi-final, with Cockerill referencing the thrashing his side receieved at The Rec earlier this season.

"As long as we beat the 45-0 deficit, we are improving aren't we?

"Look, it is a one-off game next week, and we are a different side to when we played them down there. We have got guys in our side that can win big games. We saw that last week against Wasps, and the pressure is probably not on us. I think we can go there and throw everything at them.

"The crux of it is you have to win next week. We have to win, they have to win, so different pressures come on and people react in different ways. We will go there, we will work hard and we will take 6-3 if it comes to it."