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Cockerill ready to crow at Wasps

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill has praised his coaching team at the Tigers for their work while he served a lengthy match-day ban.

Cockerill's nine-week suspension, imposed by the Rugby Football Union for remonstrating with the fourth official during last season's Aviva Premiership final against Northampton, is now over.

And the former England hooker will be back in charge for Sunday's Premiership appointment with Wasps at Adams Park, a ground where Leicester have not won since 2007.

In his absence, match-day duties fell to Paul Burke, Geordan Murphy and Richard Blaze, and Cockerill said: "I think they've all done a great job.

"We are well-placed in the Premiership table and we are in the mix in Europe with six points from two games.

"They have managed the situation very well, though they are also probably pretty happy they can hand it back and all the problems are mine on match days again!

"During the ban I would talk with Burkey about things in the week before a game, but I'd say 'it's your decision, you make the calls,' because that is the role of the coach on match days.

"It has been a bit unfair on him to go straight into the firing line after stepping up to backs coach during the summer, but it's been good for him and he has managed it very well with the other coaches.

"Now I am happy to be back and be able to do what I do on match day. From May 25 to now is a long time to be away from what you know and what you like doing."

Leicester head to Wycombe without England players Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling, who are all preparing for next weekend's opening autumn Test against Australia.

But they welcome back prop Marcos Ayerza from international commitments with Argentina, and there are also first starts for centre Terrence Hepetema and fly-half Owen Williams.

"We have got big games with Wasps away and then Harlequins at home, and we want to be able to cement our place in those top four places," Cockerill added.

"I am looking forward to doing my stuff and driving it the way I've always done it.

"During the ban I didn't have the same adrenaline flowing because I was detached from the team and that is hard, but that was the punishment."

Scott Lawson is determined to help kick-start Newcastle's Premiership season on home soil on Sunday - at the expense of his former club London Irish.

Scotland international Lawson moved to the Falcons from Irish earlier this year, but a broken finger delayed his debut until last weekend's Amlin Challenge Cup clash against Brive, when he scored a try.

And after being named in Scotland's squad for the autumn Tests earlier this week, Lawson's focus is now on helping Newcastle gain a first Premiership home win of the campaign following away-day successes last month against Sale Sharks and Worcester.

"I am itching to be involved. It was very frustrating to miss out at the start of the season," he said.

"But we started that first block of five games quite well, which is pleasing, and that made it a little bit easier.

"And this is where I wanted my family to be, closer to Scotland. In the end, when the opportunity came up, I had to take it.

"The Premiership is our main focus where we will be concentrating all of our energies. That is the competition we want to do well in, and ideally we would like to be chasing the top four and six, rather than looking over our shoulder.

"Two good away wins already this season is encouraging for the squad. Now, we have to try and find some good form at home.

"We want to make Kingston Park the toughest ground in the Premiership for clubs to come and play, and that starts this weekend."

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