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'I didn't need to walk in that changing room and flip over a table'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Rookie Leicester boss Richard Wigglesworth has revealed he didn’t lose the rag with his Tigers players when he entered the AJ Bell dressing room following last Friday’s 5-40 thrashing at Sale. The 39-year-old was recently handed the reins at Welford Road following the mid-season departure of Steve Borthwick to take charge of England.

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The reshuffle resulted in player/coach Wigglesworth immediately retiring as a player and agreeing to become the interim head coach until the end of the current season. His maiden outing as boss went well, Leicester defeating Gloucester 28-13 on Christmas Eve with an impressive second-half comeback.

However, things went awry in Wigglesworth’s first away game in charge, the Tigers fading badly in the second period in Manchester to meekly lose by 35 points. For someone who was usually an emotional guy as a player, the situation at Sale seemed readymade for some hairdryer treatment to be meted out, but the new boss assured that this wasn’t the case as he has no intention of becoming a fist-pumping coach.

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“There were a few that were worried about me walking in the dressing room but I was calm enough, calm enough,” insisted Wigglesworth at his media briefing ahead of this Saturday’s Leicester trip to Newcastle.

“I have been in changing rooms where you have been badly beaten and sometimes had a rocket and sometimes not. Has it affected what you have done the next week? Not so much… I have been in plenty of them and I didn’t need to walk into that changing room and flip over a table for them to know that we got some things wrong.

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“As a character, you would describe me as emotional. You know I am there, you know I’m around, I’d quite loud, but I’d like to think I have been in the game long enough and have had enough first-pumping coaches at different points to know that’s not what you want to do. That will not get the job done over a long period of time. Yes, I want to be calm and considerate but I want to be really authentic, to be myself with skill so I am going to try and upskill myself as much as possible.”

Having enjoyed a stellar 20-year playing career for Sale, Saracens, Leicester and England, Wigglesworth has encountered a plethora of coaches who have moulded him but he refused to single out any particular influence for fear that his other coaches might take offence.

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“I have thought about this a lot: I have had so many good ones that if I name them I will feel like I am missing guys out because the people that I played under, their record speaks for themselves. So I have learned a load from when I first went to Sale to the brilliant coaches I had at Saracens to working under Steve.

“The reason I came to Leicester was Steve because I met him and he was like this guy I’d worked with at England – I knew he was good and got more than I bargained for. So I have been able to work under and for some elite coaches at club and international level.

“I have tried to take, steal and borrow all the best bits from them guys but it is me now standing in front of the players, it’s me trying to be the best coach I can be. It’s just trying to take the best learnings I can from them.”

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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