Aaron Mauger admits he would love to stay at Leicester but sidestepped questions about whether he would like the vacant top job at the Tigers after recording a bonus point 34-9 Aviva Premiership victory over Gloucester.
The New Zealander — who signed a three-year deal as head coach in 2015 — has been in interim charge since Richard Cockerill was sacked as director of rugby at the beginning of January.
The 36-year-old former All Black would be an obvious candidate for the position if Leicester produce more performances like they did at Welford Road on Saturday – the club’s first Premiership win in more than two months – but Mauger is not looking too far ahead.
He said: “I’d love to stay at the Tigers. I have really enjoyed my time here. But these things are out of my control. It’s in the club’s hands. I’ll just keep trying my best for the team, so we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
“I really enjoy being a head coach. It has been tough without Richard Cockerill over the last six weeks because it has doubled my workload. But I have lots of good people around me to help out.”
Mauger was delighted with Leicester’s performance and their first Premiership win since December 3. It ended a run of three defeats and meant they avoided the ignominy of four on the trot last seen in 2003.
They played with the sort of energy and commitment which has been lacking for much of the season and the bonus point, achieved with a last-minute try, meant they jumped two places to fifth.
Their four tries came from Luke Hamilton, a penalty try, Adam Thompstone and new signing Maxime Mermoz, the former French centre. With two home games, against Bristol and Exeter, in the next three weeks, the Tigers now have a chance to push for a top-four place.
Mauger said: “That performance was something we have always known we are capable of. We are still a long way away from where we can get to. But we can take a lot of confidence from it. Everything we had talked about we went out and proved, which is exciting for us.
“We can take a lot of belief out of that performance. I am really proud of the way the boys went out there today. There was lots of energy, commitment and belief in what we are about.”
Mauger appeared to pour cold water on reports that fly-half Freddie Burns could leave after suggestions that Bath’s George Ford might return to Welford Road. He said: “He (Burns) is totally committed to us, which is awesome. He is a great character and we love him.”
Freddie’s brother, fly-half Billy, kicked three penalties for Gloucester, who missed several tryscoring opportunities and, apart from the third quarter, struggled to contain Leicester.
Disappointed director of rugby David Humphreys felt there were no redeeming features from their performance. He said: “We pride ourselves, no matter where we play and who we play against, of having a physical edge. “We were second best in everything. We were not competitive.
“Our set-piece let us down. We know when we come to Welford Road that we have to have a set-piece to allow us to play. We did not have that.”
Humphreys said he would get a clearer indication of whether former coach Philippe Saint-Andre will return to Gloucester if French billionaire Mohed Altrad becomes a majority shareholder of the Cherry and Whites.
He said: “The CEO has kept us in the loop about how things are progressing and in the next week we will get a clear indication of how the club is going to go forwards.”
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