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Allen: Aaron’s a Mauger coup for Leicester Tigers

Allen: Aaron’s a Mauger coup for Leicester Tigers

Leicester Tigers centre Anthony Allen believes incoming head coach Aaron Mauger can help bring glory to Welford Road in much the same way as his predecessor Matt O’Connor.

Injury cut short former New Zealand international Mauger’s career in 2010 but he’s been busy building up the impressive CV that makes him an ideal fit for the Tigers.

The club know what he’s all about after a successful three-year playing stint in Leicester and since hanging up his boots, Mauger’s taken just as much shine to coaching.

The 33-year-old has cut his teeth for three years as assistant coach at Super Rugby’s Crusaders but will not take up his new post in Leicester until the start of next season.

And Allen, who partnered the Kiwi in midfield for a season at the Tigers, is confident he will be more than a worthy replacement for O’Connor, who left for Leinster in May 2013.

“Matt was a big loss, I got on with him well and learned a lot from him. If Aaron can fill that role it’d be huge,” he said.

“At the end of my career I’ll look back at who’s helped me move my game forward and Matt certainly did that – I’m sure Aaron will be fantastic too as he’s such a positive guy.

“It’s unfortunate he had to retire but when the body says is enough is enough, there’s nothing you can do. But I had one season with him and it was great to be able to train and play at his side.

“He’s still very young but he’s made that transition into coaching coming up to four or five years now, so he’s got plenty of experience already.

“He’s a good bloke and from experience he’s always there when you need him, and no matter the situation he’d never give up and he'd do his extras.

“Some coaches only point out where you went wrong – not how to fix it, but Aaron as a player guided you through it and told you where you could improve.

“Also (defence coach) Phil Blake’s implementing his terminology, we’re all getting used to what he wants from us and we’re hugely improving on that front.

“Sometimes it’s hard for a coach to come over to a team when he doesn’t know anybody, but now along with the whole coaching staff the hard work is starting to show in the results.”

The Tigers will not be waiting around for Mauger’s arrival however as, following a rocky start to the season, Richard Cockerill’s men are unbeaten in three Aviva Premiership Rugby clashes.

As for Allen himself, last season’s worrisome leg injury is now firmly in the rear-view mirror – and he has far from given up hope of pulling on an England jersey in time for the World Cup

“You’re always hoping and driving for (England), and I think with the chopping and changing in the autumn the centres are definitely not nailed before the Six Nations,” said Allen, who has two caps to his name.

“And if I do get into the Elite Player Squad and stake my claim for the position, there’s plenty of time to be involved up to the pre-World Cup warm-ups.

“I’ve had to pull out of the last two summer tours because of injury but I usually play well at the backend of the season, so if I can stay fit then I’ll work for my chance.”

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