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Ireland prop James Cronin one of four to sign new Leicester deals

By Josh Raisey
James Cronin of Leicester Tigers looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Saracens at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on January 06, 2024 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers have announced that a quartet of players have signed new deals with the club.

Scrum-half Tom Whiteley, prop James Cronin, winger Harry Simmons and back row Hanro Liebenberg have all extended their stay at Welford Road in a spate of announcements in one day.

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Former Saracens No9 Whiteley, 28, is in his second season with the Tigers after joining from Bristol Bears midway through last season, and has played every Gallagher Premiership game so far this season. After signing, he said: “I’m delighted to extend my contract with Tigers.

“It’s a privilege to play for this great rugby club, and I will do everything I can to repay the confidence placed in me.”

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Three-cap Ireland loosehead Cronin, 33, arrived at Leicester in 2022 and has gone on to make 28 appearances for the two-time European champions to date. Cronin said: “I’m delighted to extend my time at the Leicester Tigers.”

“The club is a great place to be at the moment and as a collective we’re all clear on the work required to take us where we want to go.

“The support we get, the appreciation for lads like us in the front row, there’s few clubs in the world that have that and it’s a privilege to play at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.”

Academy product Simmons, 26, made his Leicester debut in 2017 and has gone on to make 39 appearances for his club.

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He said after signing: “I’m really happy to be staying with the club. Coming through the academy, getting to represent the club has genuinely been a dream come true so there’s nowhere I’d rather be right now.

“This season’s been up and down for me but the support from our rehab team, the boys has been unreal so I’m focused now on recovering and contributing anyway I can to the club.”

Former South Africa U20 international Liebenberg is the final signing for the Tigers. The 28-year-old arrived from the Bulls in 2019 and has gone on to make 100 appearances, captain the club, be crowned Tigers Player of the Year and win the Premiership, starting in the final in 2022 against Saracens.

After signing, Liebenberg said: “I’m grateful to continue my career here at the Leicester Tigers.

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“From day one I’ve felt at home here and I’m excited for the future, particularly with the group of players we have here and the program the coaches have put in place.

“Being part of this community, our supporters, it’s a privilege and I’ll continue to give my all for the club every time I wear the jersey.”

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Flankly 8 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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