european rugby

Leicester's Geordan Murphy
Leicester's Geordan Murphy

Leicester Tigers head coach and two-time European Cup winner Geordan Murphy is hoping for an extended run in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup after last year’s Pool Stage exit.

The Welford Road side could only finish fourth last season in a tricky Pool Four that included finalists Racing 92, semi-finalists Munster and Top 14 winners Castres Olympique.

Murphy took over the reins as Leicester Tigers head coach after Matt O’Connor left the club last month, but it has been a tough start for the former Ireland international with his side sitting seventh in the Gallagher Premiership after five matches.

The 40-year-old former Ireland international started in both of Leicester’s European Cup final victories in 2001 and 2002, scoring a try in the latter final against Munster in Cardiff.

This year’s Heineken Champions Cup Pool Stage draw pitted Leicester against familiar rivals in Racing 92, Scarlets and Ulster Rugby, something Murphy was keen to point out during the launch at St James’ Park, Newcastle, host venue for the 2018/19 Finals Weekend.

“Obviously, the group was very difficult [last year],” Murphy said. “I think last season, obviously, we had Racing, who we have again this year, and we’ll have some ding-dong battles with them.

“We’re very much looking forward to going to Paris and experiencing their new venue.

“We also had a tough one against Castres [Olympique] last season, who ended up being the finalists and the champions of France, so we had a very difficult group.

“Hopefully, this season it might be a little bit easier, but I very much doubt it. Racing are obviously there again, (along with) Ulster and Scarlets, who are a side that I hugely admire and a great coaching team as well.

“So, we will certainly have our work cut out, but I think the players are very excited about it.

“They want to get out there and they want to play against the best in Europe and give a good account of themselves.

“Hopefully we can do well in the Heineken Champions Cup.”