Cockerill: No rift with Lancaster

Relations between Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill and England coach Stuart Lancaster remain healthy despite a dispute over the fitness of Toby Flood, according to the Tigers boss.


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.

Cockerill told Press Association Sport: "Me and Stu didn't have a bust-up. 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."

Cockerill's priority is preparing for this Saturday's Premiership final with Harlequins and is naturally hoping playmaker Flood will be available. 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."

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