Leicester Tigers will welcome Aled Walters to the club ahead of the 2020/21 season as Head of Physical Performance.
Walters joins Tigers from South Africa, where he has been the Head of Athletic Performance at SA Rugby since 2018 and played a key role in the Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup win.
The Welsh-born Walters completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Sports Science at Loughborough University in 2002 before completing his Master of Science, Strength and Conditioning at Edinburgh.
He 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.
“It’s a game changer for us at Tigers and something we are extremely excited about going into the next phase of this journey" - Geordan Murphy
Speaking about his appointment at Tigers, Walters admitted to having been a long-time admirer of the club from afar.
“I grew up a staunch Scarlets fan and have a lot of history with Leicester,” he said. “I was there when the famous Tim Stimpson penalty went over.”
He added: “You have to fit the culture and I definitely appreciate that. That’s why teams like Leicester are more attractive to me.
“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 accepted leaving the world champions was not a decision he made lightly, but said the parallels between Tigers and the Springboks he joined in 2018 were clear.
“It’s a genuine privilege and I don’t take leaving a World Cup team lightly,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Ahead of arriving in the East Midlands, Walters has been doing his homework on the Tigers squad and says his first task will be to “establish relationships” before contributing towards ensuring the club is “going in the right direction”.
“The initial challenge when you join any team is to establish relationships and understand the culture of the team,” Walters said.
“I have got an idea of what it is about, from the outside, but it’s only an idea and, pretty quickly, I need to contribute to making these guys better rugby players.
The World Cup winner also pointed towards the “world-class talent” and future stars at Tigers as major factors in accepting the role.
“It’s an attractive proposition to work with world-class athletes and there is plenty at Leicester,” he said.
“The Academy is so strong at Leicester and it’s exciting to see what is coming through.”
The incoming Head of Physical Performance also said he was aware of the “expectation” on him to deliver results.
“It’s not a club I can come into without the expectation to deliver and something I will hold myself accountable to,” he added.
“I have got a massive respect for Tigers, it’s a massive club and one of the biggest in Europe.”
“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" - Aled Walters
Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy, who will move into the Director of Rugby role on July 1, described it was a “significant” appointment for the club.
“Aled is a world-renowned, world-class coach who we are excited to have joining us in Leicester,” said Murphy.
“The addition of someone of Aled’s experience and knowledge is a significant signing for Leicester Tigers.
“He has worked with some of the game’s best athletes and been a big contributor to the successful environments he has been a part of, which will be key for us moving forward into this new chapter at Tigers.”
Murphy also described the dual appointments of Walters and incoming head coach Steve Borthwick as a “game changer” for the club.
“Aled’s addition alongside Steve [Borthwick] is key to what we are doing in Leicester,” added Murphy.
“It’s a game changer for us at Tigers and something we are extremely excited about going into the next phase of this journey.”
Walters will replace Alex Martin as the club’s Head of Physical Performance from next season.