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Cockerill with England: 'A big jump in how you conduct yourself'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Ellis Genge has described what it has been like suddenly working with Richard Cockerill at England more than four years after the rumbustious Leicester character was forced out of Tigers. It was the now 50-year-old former England hooker who originally brought the Test loosehead into the fold at the Gallagher Premiership club in February 2016. That initial loan deal from Bristol quickly became a permanent one but Genge ultimately didn’t get to spend much time being coached by the colourful Cockerill as the head coach was sacked by Leicester in January 2017. 

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Nearly five years later, though, their paths have now crossed again in the workplace following the decision by Eddie Jones to bring in Cockerill as his new England forwards coach after he moved on from Edinburgh in the summer.

Having initially assembled for a two-day camp in London in September, England are now negotiating their way through a week-long preparation camp in Jersey ahead of the November internationals versus Tonga, Australia and South Africa and Genge has described how his old boss has been settling into his new role as an assistant.

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“It’s good,” said Genge when asked by RugbyPass about how a coach with the reputation of being a feisty personality has been faring working under Jones in what is a very different environment to Leicester. “He is a little bit different to when I had him at Leicester but the difference between club and international is a big jump in terms of how you sort of conduct yourself.

“If you think, at Leicester he was there for 20-odd years and he was a very different character there to what he is going to be here. He is just working on building relationships with people now but he is a good operator when he gets his feet on the ground, so we are just working as hard as we can as quickly as we can to find those relationships.”

There was no radio silence between the pair in the years after Cockerill had abruptly exited Leicester. “I kept in contact with Cockers in the meantime while he was up at Edinburgh and then when he got the England job I texted to say congratulations, that he was sort of a big pillar in my career,” continued Genge. “He was the one who brought me into the Leicester environment and treated me so well. If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be sitting here in front of the camera now.”

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In a follow-up media briefing, Genge added: “I’m sure at some stage we will see that hard-nosed edge that we are all very familiar with in the Leicester camp. And rightly so. That is something that will benefit us as a forward pack. At the moment, he hasn’t had the opportunity to flare up at us. But it is inevitable… and I look forward to it.

“He is a good operator. He is good at marshalling. He was in a very different role with Leicester to what he is doing now. He was marshalling standards and if you wore the wrong socks he would go mental. He isn’t really running around here doing that as standards tend to be a bit higher and boys tend to marshal themselves. I always took maintaining standards from Cockers. And don’t p*** about!”

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