Leicester Tigers: Richard Wigglesworth says ‘no-one prepared’ for him to take charge

Leicester Tigers: Richard Wigglesworth says 'no-one prepared' for him to take charge

Richard Wigglesworth retired as the Premiership’s record appearance maker, featuring in the competition 322 times during his 20-year career

Richard Wigglesworth says he had doubts about retiring as a player to become Leicester Tigers interim head coach, but quickly decided he is ready for the top job.

The 39-year-old, who was already a coach at Tigers, says he “expects to be in charge” for the rest of the season at the very least.

“No-one was prepared for this, were they?” Wigglesworth said.

“Did I think about saying no? Yes, absolutely.

“I was still playing, and I was still thinking ‘am I good enough for the lads, am I going to serve them right?’ And then Friday afternoon I made the decision that I would do it.

“I feel pretty responsible for the group, pretty invested in the group and I’m really confident about the players, the staff and the support that will allow me to give it a proper good crack and to do a good job for them.”

Wigglesworth’s retirement as a player comes just six months after he started in Tigers’ Premiership final win against his former club Saracens – a side he won three European Champions Cups with.

Victory at Twickenham saw him collect a seventh English title, becoming the oldest player to do so.

Wigglesworth moved on to Tigers’ coaching team under Borthwick in September 2021, having previously got backroom staff experience with Canada and Ealing.

With Borthwick long being touted as a future replacement for Eddie Jones, Wigglesworth said he had previously been spoken to about the prospect of one day taking on the role as head coach of the East Midlands club.

Asked by BBC Radio Leicester if he was treating the interim role as an audition, Wigglesworth replied: “It’s not something that worries me too much.

“I’ve had five days in the job and it’s been pretty hectic.

“I’d spoken to the club about the process after Steve anyway so I was part of that thinking.

“I don’t think they will rush to change that. They have a process to get the best man for it and I wouldn’t have thought this means anything other than that remains the same.”

Wigglesworth, who holds the record for most Premiership appearances with 322 and played his final game in the European Champions Cup last week, will be in charge of Tigers for the first time when they face Gloucester at home on Saturday.

He says doing so will be “a privilege”.

“Do I understand the size of this club? Yes, it’s biggest club in the country. That makes it a really proud moment for me to be able to say yes to the job.”

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