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Mike Ford has left his role as Leicester Tigers defence coach to continue Steve Borthwick’s reshaping of the club, with rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield in advanced negotiations to join.
Ford, like Sinfield a former Great Britain international in the 13-man code, was added to the coaching staff at Welford Road in the closing months of the 2018/19 season as Tigers scrambled to avoid relegation from the Premiership.
He initially oversaw attack but then took charge of defence ahead of Borthwick’s arrival as head coach just over a year ago.
Telegraph Sport understands that Ford’s departure, which comes by mutual consent, will not impact on the short-term future of his son George. The England fly-half remains under contract with Leicester, having agreed a new deal last June, and is said to be happy with the progress made under Borthwick.
The link between Tigers and Sinfield, Leeds Rhinos’ current director of rugby, was first reported by The Rugby Paper on June 6. Both he and Borthwick have refused to comment when asked about the move but it is believed to be close to completion.
Earlier this week, Rugby World Cup-winning defence guru Phil Larder suggested that Sinfield would be a “massive asset” to Leicester and highlighted the 40-year-old’s recent fundraising efforts for ex-Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow.
“Kevin has got so many options that he [could] go as a chief executive, head coach, skills coach or a defence coach,” Larder told Leeds Live.
“He could just go and take his wide range of rugby league skills to Leicester because he’s got so much to offer.
“I think Leicester might just want to tap into a really strong character because Kevin has not only raised an incredible sum of money by running seven marathons in seven days, he also captained Leeds in their most successful era.”
Mike Ford leaves Leicester having helped the club improve in the defensive department. Tigers conceded 57 tries in Premiership action this year on the way to a sixth-place finish.
While that total was aided by two cancelled matches, only the top three – Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks – were more miserly. Over the 2019-20 campaign, by contrast, 11th-placed Tigers conceded 79 tries.
Sinfield’s experience in rugby union to date comprises a brief stint at Yorkshire Carnegie between 2015 and 2016 to follow his glittering playing career in league with Rhinos.
Since last summer, director of rugby Geordan Murphy, scrum coach Boris Stankovich and attack coach Rob Taylor have been among others to exit Welford Road as Borthwick has assembled his backroom team.