Manu Tuilagi has issued a farewell message to Leicester Tigers fans after it was confirmed on Monday that he had joined Gallagher Premiership rivals Sale Sharks. The England and Lions midfielder was one of five players stood down at Welford Road after deciding not to agree to a permanent salary cut. 

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After his departure was officially confirmed by Leicester, the path was clear for Sale to make a successful approach which means that three of the five contract rebels have quickly found alternative employers.

Telusa Veainu has hooked up with Stade Francais, Noel Reid has signed for Agen, leaving Greg Bateman and Kyle Eastmond as the remaining pair who still have to sort out their future.

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Tuilagi is set to conduct his first media as a Sale player on Tuesday and rather than take questions on his leaving of Leicester, he has issued a statement in advance which touches on his move from the East Midlands.

“I would like to take this opportunity to convey our thanks to everybody at Leicester Tigers for all their love and support for the past eleven years,” said Tuilagi.

“I’m very grateful for all the support and friendship from the coaches and all the staff at the club, but even more so to the remarkable supporters who make the Tigers such a unique special club! It has been an enormous honour and privilege for me and my family to be part of the history of one of the greatest rugby clubs in the world. The Tigers have always been so special to myself and my brothers for the past 20 years. 

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“I wish for nothing but the best for our Tigers family going forward. Everyone has their own pathway in life and I’m excited to see what the future holds.  

“I’m thankful to Steve Diamond and Sale Sharks for giving me this great opportunity and I’m looking forward to playing with some world-class players here. 

“Leicester Tigers will always have a special place in the hearts of the Tuilagi family. With love and best wishes to all from Manu, Chantelle and Leilani. x”

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