Planet Rugby

Cockerill targets improved defence

02nd August 2014 08:13

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SKY_MOBILE Phil Blake - Oct 2010

Phil Blake: Tigers' new defence coach

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill has identified defence as an area his side must improve on if they want to regain the Premiership title.

During last season's Premiership campaign the Tigers conceded 41 tries - 10 more than eventual champions Northampton Saints.

Cockerill has already made plans for his side to improve on that effort by bringing in Australian rugby league great Phil Blake as Leicester's new defence coach.

The Tigers' consistency on defence was hampered by a long injury list which saw them trying out 13 different centre combinations last season.

But Cockerill feels that his team can show a technical and mental improvement on defence.

"We need to be better defensively," he told the Leicester Mercury.

"Our understanding of defence individually needs to be better, our tackle technique has to be better.

No issues with our commitment, if you watch any of our games we are committed. Sometimes we are not as bright as we should be.

"We need to improve our physicality on the gain line when we don't have the ball. We are very eager to play with the ball but when it is turned over we are not as aggressive or as urgent in defence as we should be.

"We let teams run at us too much. That cost us in the season. Some of that is how we play, some of that is our mentality. We can tackle.

"We scramble and we dive for the team when we have to roll our sleeves up and dig in but I want us to avoid getting to that point as often as possible."

"We have got the personnel and it's about getting the detail in the coaching. If those parts of the game aren't working as well as you want them to you have to do something about it and now we have that expertise in our coaching team along with all the other guys."

Cockerill did most of the defensive work with his charges last season but is excited to have Blake - who had stints as the defence coach with the Wallabies and Western Force - as part of his backroom staff.

"He comes with a great reputation, he's a good person," said Cockerill.

"He has coached as a head coach, so not only is he a good defence coach, he understands the game even though he has a league background.

"Having a dedicated person to look at the detail and drive it on a week-to-week basis will be much better."

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