Rugby Club: Richard Cockerill and Lewis Moody pay tribute to Geordan Murphy

Last Updated: 24/05/13 10:34am

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill told Rugby Club that he believes Geordan Murphy can further his legendary status at the club in a coaching capacity.

Murphy announced his retirement from rugby earlier this month following a glittering playing career with the Tigers.

During his 16 years at Welford Road, the Kildare native made 322 appearances and captured two Heineken Cups and seven Premiership titles, while also winning 72 caps for Ireland and featuring twice for the British and Irish Lions.

"I think it was Dean Richards who first compared Geordan Murphy to George Best - the similarities in terms of skill are undoubted."

Lewis Moody

The 35-year-old will take up a coaching role next season and while Cockerill believes he will succeed as a coach, he reckons his qualities as a player will be missed.

"Until guys hang their boots up, you don't realise how good they've been for you and for the club, and how hard they are to replace," said Cockerill.

"If we were to go into the marketplace to find a like-for-like replacement for Murphy, we'd have to remortgage the stands at Welford Road."

Murphy decided to hang up his boots after an injury-disrupted campaign. He had considered a part-time playing role for next season but after that was ruled out due to budgetary constraints, he accepted an offer to join the club's coaching staff.

Cockerill said: "I had some preliminary chats with him and then, next thing I know he was telling everyone that he was going into retirement and joining the coaching staff. I couldn't really go back on it then!

"I think he'll be a very good coach. Clearly, his affiliation to Leicester is huge after 16 years of playing here. He's a legend at the club, both as a player and a person. His knowledge is second to none.

"I've no doubt he has every quality, both professionally as in knowing the game and as a person. He's a good person and they normally make good coaches."

Ability

Former England captain Lewis Moody says he and the rest of the Leicester squad were taken aback by Murphy's talent when he joined the club in 1997.

He said: "Speak to any of the guys who had the opportunity to play with him at Leicester during the late '90s when he first came on the scene. I'd never - and still haven't - seen anyone like him in terms of natural ability.

"The things he could do with a rugby ball were ridiculous. I think it was Dean Richards who first compared him to George Best - the similarities in terms of skill are undoubted. He's also not shy of a drink of the pitch!

"In the first game Geordan and myself ever played in, we were 19 and it was a wet day in Coventry. We had a scrum and the forwards were making the hard yards and driving the ball.

"Daz [Darren] Garforth, Martin Johnson and myself were getting up from the scrum when we saw Geordan lining up a drop goal from the halfway line.

"Daz was about to let rip at him when the ball flew between the posts. He shouted: 'Well done lad, good choice!'"