Leicester Tigers long way off top four, says George Ford

<span>Optimism appeared to be returning at Welford Road but fly-half George Ford has poured cold water on any hopes Leicester Tigers might have of making the top four this season.</span>
Optimism appeared to be returning at Welford Road but fly-half George Ford has poured cold water on any hopes Leicester Tigers might have of making the top four this season.

After an historically bad seven-game losing run at the end of last year, the Tigers are now effectively out of Europe and looked to be heading for a relegation battle in the Premiership.

But after Geordan Murphy was at long last confirmed as permanent head coach, the Tigers appeared to turn a corner around Christmas.

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Back-to-back home wins over Harlequins and Gloucester – the first time they have managed that this season – have lifted them to seventh in the league and only three points off the top four.

Semi-finals and finals used to be par for the course for the Tigers, they made the top four every season from 2005 up until last spring.

But the Tigers have since hit rock bottom and are still climbing out – according to fly-half Ford.

“This is a club with a lot of history in terms of winning trophies and being in semi-finals and finals,” said Ford, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, at an off road driving event to kick off a huge year of rugby for the automotive brand and its ambassadors.

“But I don’t think we can look at our season so far and make goals like that. I don’t think we are in a position as a team to say: ‘Let’s get to a semi-final or a final’.

“We have been too inconsistent to look anywhere other than the next game, the next challenge.

“The last two or three weeks we have actually played a lot better. Some people might think we have turned the corner and maybe we have a little bit.

“But I personally think we have still got a lot of hard work to do and adjustments to make if we want to be a top team again.

“I don’t think there will be any quick fixes, it will be a slow rebuilding process but that is what the club needs.”

The season got off to a rocky start, a shellacking from Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park prompting the sacking of head coach Matt O’Connor just one game into the campaign.

And Ford admits that was always going to take some time to come back from.

“To change your head coach after one game is not ideal is it?” he added.

“The board made the decision on what they thought was the right thing to do so as players you have to get on with it.

“We tried to make the best of that situation but we had a very bad run of results.

“Teams are good these days and the table is too tight, if you are not quite on it you will get beaten in the Premiership, it’s as simple as that.

“We have got to make sure we get our foundations and principles in place and it might take a while, but at least we will be going in the right direction.”

Ford’s attentions remain on club duty for now with a final European fortnight to negotiate against first Scarlets and then Ulster.

But soon all eyes will be on the Six Nations as England begin a huge year that culminates in the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“Eddie says in every meeting that the goal is to be the best team in the world. And to do that you have got to win the World Cup,” added Ford.

“That is where we want to be in the bigger picture, but between that and now there is the opportunity for us to come together again as a squad in a great tournament like the Six Nations, keep improving and hopefully win a Championship which will then lead us into whatever is after that.

“Eddie is always saying that the team is to be No.1 and the World Cup is the opportunity to do that.”

George Ford is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has a heritage in rugby, sharing and understanding the values of the sport. @LandRoverRugby 


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