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Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Leicester doubt over Meyer future

Leicester coach Heyneke Meyer
Meyer took over at Leicester at the start of this season

Leicester have confirmed that their South African head coach Heyneke Meyer faces an uncertain future at the club because of a serious family illness.

Meyer has returned home on compassionate leave with forwards coach Richard Cockerill expected to remain in charge for the rest of January.

BBC Radio 5 Live understands Meyer may not even return to the club.

"Both his wife's parents are seriously ill, and he has gone back to assess the situation," chairman Peter Tom said.

"We're happy to give him all the time he needs, and you cannot speculate."

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The South African press has reported that, John McFarland, Meyer's prospective new defence coach at Welford Road, has asked to be allowed to return to his job with the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.

McFarland resigned from the Bulls on 7 November and was expected to join Meyer at Leicester.

But the Bulls said in a statement on their website that his return was under negotiation.

Meyer, who guided South Africa's Blue Bulls to Super 14 glory last year, agreed a three-year contract at Welford Road to replace former Argentina coach Marcelo Loffreda.

Leicester's next game is against Northampton on 10 January, followed by Heineken Cup fixtures against Treviso and the Ospreys.

Cockerill added: "At this time Heyneke needs our support as a club. He's got some issues to deal with at home and we wish him all the best and hope he's back with us very soon.

"He didn't leave until Tuesday evening, so he's planned this whole week's training, he's picked the team, he's done all the tactics and he's been on the phone ever since.

"It's not an issue from a rugby point of view and we'll just get on with business as usual.

"Heyneke's made a massive impression here and we want him here for the long term. He's a world-class coach and we need that continuity within the club."

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see also
Leicester 24-22 Bath
04 Jan 09 |  English
Tigers need to be smarter - Meyer
29 Dec 08 |  Leicester
Harlequins 26-26 Leicester
27 Dec 08 |  English
Tigers name Meyer as head coach
30 Jun 08 |  Leicester


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