Leicester find themselves down in ninth place in the Premiership at the start of 2018 and the only way is up but their lowly position isn’t down to the coaching, according to former fly half Andy Goode.
The Tigers are on their worst run of form for over half a century since 1965 after losing six straight games in all competitions since November.
They are now just one place above their fierce East Midlands rivals Northampton, who sacked Jim Mallinder last month after their poor run of form showed no signs of abating, but Goode says coaching is not the issue at Welford Road.
“They’ve made it into the top four for the last 13 years but I don’t think the blame lies with Matt O’Connor. He only came in at the back end of last season and recruitment as a process is done early,” he said on The Rugby Pod.
“Exeter, Saracens, Wasps and the top clubs do their recruitment three years in advance and they target where they want to improve and what they need. Leicester have got their recruitment massively wrong.”
Goode, who won five Premiership titles and two European Cups with Leicester, says the club have got it wrong in the transfer market and not invested in the back row and second row, where the squad needed the most improvement.
“I think they’ve got their recruitment in the forwards wrong massively,” he said.
“Ellis Genge has bags of potential, Tom Youngs and Tatafu Polota-Nau are both good players and Dan Cole is England’s tighthead prop but behind that the back five forwards are nothing like what you would expect Leicester’s back five of the scrum to be like when you look at the foundations that the club is built on.”
Goode also highlighted the big money summer signing of England fly half George Ford as a potential error of judgement, saying that the balance of the squad was better last season and that the money could have been better used elsewhere.
“George Ford is England’s number 10 at times but I still think that the sum of the parts last year with Owen Williams and Freddie Burns as the two fly halves, and them never being away on international duty, is greater than the sum of the Ford brothers with Joe as the back up,” said Goode, speaking on The Rugby Pod.
“I don’t think the Toomua/Ford axis works at the minute. Toomua is a great player but I don’t think he helps Ford’s natural game.
“George Ford, for me, was a panic signing. It was a statement signing to say ‘look what we can do’ and actually you’re probably better off keeping Freddie Burns and spending that £600,000 on three quality forwards in the back five that they don’t have.”