Moody believes Tigers' roots have gone rotten as they miss play-offs

In only the second time in the last 15 seasons Leicester Tigers will not compete in the Premiership play-offs. The players and supporters will likely look on in disbelief as Welford Road narrowly escaped relegation.
One final game to breathe some pride back into the shirt, as the Tigers host Bath this weekend, will do little to stem the sense of failure surrounding the club. 
And Lewis Moody, a Leicester stalwart and exemplary club man is in little doubt where Leicester's seemingly indestructible roots have gone rotten.
'It stems back five or six years. Historically the club has had a very strong academy pool of players that have come through and filled the places in the first team, the culture has always been strong and then over the years they have been able to drip feed one or two international players into that first team,' explained Moody.
'I think where it's gone wrong is that over the years recruitment has meant that they've drafted in big names that have maybe played six months, a year, two years (in the Premiership) – at the expense of two or three cheaper younger academy players like Harry Thacker, Ed Slater, Billy Twelvetrees - all guys that are proper club men. 
'Those that when international players are away, step up and deliver the goods for you.'
Thacker is now successfully earning his keep at Bristol, who have turned over Leicester and Saracens in recent weeks, while Slater and Twelvetrees are key components in Gloucester's play-off securing squad.  
But with the likes of George Ford, Jonny May and Matt Toomua in Leicester's back line, is the route of the problem really down to recruitment?
'What Leicester have now – because they've reduced the number of players, they find themselves with an unbelievable back line but underneath that starting line they don't have the quality - and the pack, they just don't have the quality or the strength in depth of the teams of the past,' continued Moody.
'That's purely because of the signings that have been made years gone by and Geordan Murphy finds himself in the position he is in now through no fault of his own, through previous coaches who have frittered away at the quality, ethos, environment and culture that the club was renowned for.
'You look at the likes of Saracens and Exeter who have essentially built their environments off the model of Leicester – which was having strong academies, strong cultures and about fighting for each other on and off the pitch, and Leicester have lost that.'
Becoming the youngest player to make his league debut for Leicester at 18 years old (record surpassed by Ben Youngs), Moody went on to win seven Premiership titles, two Heineken Cups, as well as the Anglo-Welsh cup in what will now be considered the Tiger's golden age, before heading to Bath in the twilight of his career.
The ex-England captain played alongside the legends of the game, learning his trade from Neil Back, led by Martin Johnson, Brett Deacon, Graham Rowntree, Austin Healey, Alesana Tuilagi, the list goes on. And Moody shared the pitch with Leicester's most decorated player – Geordan Murphy. No shortage of superstar, yet most importantly, all bled green and white.
'The sad thing is you've got a guy in Tom Youngs at Leicester who just personifies everything great about the club but you can't just have one, two, three of those guys - you need to have 18 or 19,' added Moody. 
'Then you can fill in the likes of an Austin Healey, a real character that maybe wouldn't naturally fit into a team because they can be quite divisive, but surround them with all those hard-working proper club men, it can work really well.
'Sprinkle that with some stardust from an international here or there rather than a truck load of internationals that undermine the strength and depth because they cost so much to get them in. 
'It's a tricky situation now but there are changes that need to happen at the top as well.'
The flanker's underlying concern for the club stretches further than misguided recruitment. The bigger question is for those pulling the strings at the top of the food chain. 
The likes of Peter Tom (Executive Chairman) and Peter Wheeler (retired as Executive Director in 2015) who have spent decades carving out Leicester's brand of rugby both from a player and club perspective look set to take a back step in the club leaving Leicester in uncertain waters, and Moody fears further losses could incur.
'Pete Tom, Pete Wheeler, these guys who have been there so long now, who are starting to step away and then you're bringing in people that maybe don't have the same values and ethos , the same drive,' said Moody.
'They were all men that played at the club and knew exactly what Leicester was about and they lived and breathed it and made every individual that was playing, not playing, car parking attendant, working at the bar - made them all believe that their job was important enough that it was benefiting the team on match day. 
'And if you have leaders at the top like that you have such a strong environment. But with those guys stepping away now and having less and less of a role, they need to think carefully about who comes in and who is going to take it forward. 
'Geordan's got some good plans and he's the right man in that position for me, he knows what he's got to do, it's just going to take him a good few years to get the club back to where he'll want it to be.
'He is well respected by the players, he has humility and is an incredible thinker of the game. Brett Deacon (senior development coach) and other club men have those links to the past that make playing for a club like Leicester so important. They'll be back but they've got some tough years ahead.'

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