Cockerill denies Lancaster rift
Tigers coach plays down public spat ahead of Premiership final
Last Updated: May 22, 2012 7:05pm
Richard Cockerill: Gets on well with England chief despite public spat
Relations between Leicester chief Richard Cockerill and England coach Stuart Lancaster remain healthy despite a dispute over Toby Flood.
The pair had a public difference of opinion over the fly-half's ankle problem last week, with Cockerill describing his counterpart's open discussion about Flood at a press conference as "very unhelpful".
Lancaster had indicated he would be sending a national team doctor to assess the 26-year-old's fitness with the forthcoming tour of South Africa in mind.
"We had a healthy discussion and worked out a way of dealing with things moving forward."
Richard Cockerill Quotes of the week
That is not Cockerill's priority, though, as he is preparing for this Saturday's Aviva Premiership final with Harlequins, and is naturally hoping his playmaker will be available for his club rather than worrying about his country.
But he said he and Lancaster had met and talked the issue through, finding a better way of dealing with future matters in the process.
"Me and Stu didn't have a bust-up," he said. "We met last week and had a discussion about how we will handle things in the future.
"I get on with Stu. We have a good relationship. We had a difference of opinion, which is okay. We had a healthy discussion and worked out a way of dealing with things moving forward."
Flood's Twickenham participation remains unknown, with teenage rookie George Ford standing by, and Cockerill would not be drawn - only adding: "Floody is working hard and improving day by day."
Saturday's clash with Quins will be Leicester's eighth successive final appearance and their 12th out of the last 14.
Such consistency is rarely seen in sport, but Cockerill claims the values of his club mean failure is never an option.
Even when they languished in 11th place early in the season with a large part of their squad away on World Cup duty, the 41-year-old former Tigers hooker never wavered in his belief that they would turn their form around.
"I was confident we could get the season back on track," he said. "To what degree, I never knew.
"Normally, we have a good start to the season and can afford a slip-up here or there. But having lost six of the first seven games, there was no opportunity to lose.
"We had to pretty much win every game and that's what we have done barring one. The turnaround has been good. Was I sure it would be this good? I could never say that, but I will take it."
Leicester head to Twickenham in sterling form. They have won their last 11 games in all competitions and certainly seem play-off ready.
For Cockerill, that is one of the traits of a side that expects success. "We pride ourselves on being consistent and obviously eight finals speaks for itself," he said.
"We've been in 12 finals in 14 years and we're a very consistent club. But finals are for winning and that's the key this weekend.
"The expectation here is that you have to be good and the club, across the board, doesn't suffer fools lightly. If you're not good enough, you move on - whether you're a player, coach or on the backroom staff.
"You have to be the highest quality to be here. That's the way the club is run and why it's been successful."