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Leicester statement: 4 more signings, including two from London Irish

By Liam Heagney
EX-London Irish skipper Matt Rogerson (Screen grab via London Irish)

New Leicester boss Dan McKellar has added four more signings to his squad for the upcoming 2023/24 season, including two additions from the financially collapsed London Irish. The Exiles squad – which finished fifth in last season’s Gallagher Premiership, four points behind the third-place Tigers – have seen their squad break up since the club’s early June RFU suspension and fall into administration.

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The two latest players to secure employment elsewhere are skipper Matt Rogerson and scrum-half Joe Powell. Leicester have also signed out-half Kieran Wilkinson from Sale while the versatile forward Mike Williams has returned to the club following stints with Bath and Exeter.

These signings bring to 11 the number of new players joining Leicester – the seven additions previously announced were Josh Bassett, Sam Carter, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Kyle Hatherell, Solomone Kata, Jamie Shillcock and Finn Theobald-Thomas.

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A statement read: “Leicester Tigers head coach Dan McKellar has confirmed four additions ahead of the 23/24 season. Included within the quartet of signings is a returning Tiger, who made more than 80 appearances for Leicester in four seasons at the club, and an international scrum-half who previously worked with McKellar down under.

“The four additions are: Joe Powell (scrum-half), Matt Rogerson (back row), Kieran Wilkinson (fly-half) and Mike Williams (lock/back row).

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“The 29-year-old Powell makes the move to the East Midlands after a season with London Irish, who he joined after eight years of Super Rugby. Back-rower Rogerson makes the move to Tigers from London Irish, who he made more than 100 appearances for during five seasons – including the final two as club captain.

“Fly-half Wilkinson made 22 appearances for Sale in all competitions since his senior debut in 2018. And 31-year-old forward Williams returns to Tigers, where he made more than 80 appearances during four seasons with the club, after stints with Bath and Exeter. Williams, who is capable of playing at lock and across the back row, played his junior rugby with the Sharks and Blue Bulls in South Africa before joining Worcester in 2013.”

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McKellar said: “Joe is an experienced scrum-half who has played at the highest level in the game and I am really excited about having him join us at Leicester Tigers. I have spoken openly about the type of players we want at Tigers, the type of character I want in the group and a young man of Joe’s qualities on and off the pitch fits well and truly within that.

“It’s no secret we are likely to be without Jack (van Poortvliet) and Ben (Youngs) during the World Cup, so certainly in need of depth at scrum-half and I am pleased we have been able to add that with the quality of Joe.

“It is great to be welcoming a player of Matt’s experience and character to Leicester. He is a tried and tested player in the Premiership and adds important depth and competition to our back row ranks.

“You don’t play a century of games in this league without a certain level of toughness and commitment, as well as plenty of talent, and Matt has shown that over a number of years now.

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“His class and character have shone through in recent times when captain of London Irish to lead his playing group through such a tumultuous period and it is that type of person we want representing Leicester.

“It is great to be able to confirm Kieran’s signing with the club from next season, which will see him boost our fly-half ranks alongside Charlie Atkinson and Handre Pollard. While still very much a young man, Kieran has already got a great amount of senior experience in the English game and is a player with potential.

“We are confident that he will be able to take his game to the next level as part of Leicester and looking forward to helping him continue to develop his game.

“We are excited to have Mike back at Leicester. He is a physical player with a combative approach to the game and enjoys the tough stuff – all the attributes we want in our forwards at this club. I am certain our supporters are pleased to see a man of Mike’s character back at the club also.

“He understands what it means to be able to represent Leicester, our role in the community and is as passionate as ever about being a part of that again.”

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