The Springboks’ former head of athletic performance, Aled Walters, has officially joined English club the Leicester Tigers ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Walters joined the Springboks from Munster with Rassie Erasmus back in 2018 and has been an unsung hero in ensuring their fitness and conditioning was up to scratch ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
On Tuesday, SA Rugby announced that Walters had been released from his contract in order to allow him to join an overseas club in June.
On Wednesday, Leicester confirmed the Welsh-born Walters has been appointed as the club’s head of physical performance, replacing Alex Martin.
‘It’s an attractive proposition to work with world-class athletes and there is plenty at Leicester. You have to fit the culture and I definitely appreciate that. That’s why teams like Leicester are more attractive to me,’ he said.
‘I have got a massive respect for Tigers, it’s a massive club and one of the biggest in Europe. I grew up a staunch Scarlets fan and have a lot of history with Leicester. I was there when the famous Tim Stimpson penalty went over.
‘Leicester is a very similar club to Munster and Scarlets – it’s a working-class area, they’re tougher people and that’s something that definitely appealed to me.’
Walters added that leaving the Springboks was not a decision he made lightly, but said the parallels between the Tigers and Springboks he joined in 2018 were clear.
‘It’s a genuine privilege and I don’t take leaving a World Cup team lightly. It’s a very similar challenge to a couple of years ago, when I was approached to join the South African team who were playing below par,’ he explained.
‘I see this as a similar scenario, and what I know first-hand is that things can change, but it takes a lot of hard work and only happens if everyone buys into it. The challenge wouldn’t be as attractive if I didn’t believe there were things in place to turn things around and get the job done.’
Walters spent four seasons with the Scarlets before taking on the role of head of strength and conditioning at Taranaki and then athletic performance coach at the Brumbies in Super Rugby.
In 2012, Walters became head of athletic performance, strength and conditioning at Munster Rugby for six years ahead of being recruited to head up the Springboks’ programme.
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