Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Tom says Manu Tuilagi’s exit from the club is ‘extremely sad’ but he wishes the England ‘all the best’.

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Tigers confirmed earlier this week that five of the playing squad will be leaving the club due to financial difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic, including star centre Tuilagi. Now, speaking on LTTV, the Leicester Tigers chairman has directly addressed the situation.

“I’m disappointed to a degree. We’d have much preferred to have these conversations in private.

“I fully respect everyone coming to their own conclusion. At the end of the day they have to come to their conclusion about what’s best for their families and things like that. The point is five guys have decided that they are going to move on.

“The positive side of that is that a high percentage of the squad had no issues and understood the situation and we’re prepared to accept it and take the Tigers forward. Like I say, I’d prefer it hadn’t happened in the media.

“The fact was these tough decisions had to be made.”

The chairman was asked was he happy with how Leicester Tigers handled their ‘side of the situation’.

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“You read the media and occasionally I read social media. The majority of our supporters understand what a very difficult situation this is.

“I even had some supportive messages this morning. I also had a few giving me a good kicking as well.

“This is all about how to ensure the survival of Leicester Tigers. That’s foremost in all our minds.

“We would like to share everything with everybody but ultimately we can’t.”

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Tom also touched directly on Tuilagi’s exit, bringing to an end a two-decade long relationship between the club and the famous Tuilagi family. His comments suggest don’t offer much hope for a u-turn by the centre or the club.

“To see Manu moving on is extremely sad for the club. Obviously, we wish him all the best.”

Reports over the weekend suggested Tuilagi and the club were still speaking, but Mr Tom’s comments appear to suggest that his exit is a permanent one.

Chief executive Andrea Pinchen stated earlier this week that Tuilagi, Telusa Veainu, Greg Bateman, Noel Reid and Kyle Eastmond had all refused to accept pay cuts. Sale Sharks are now reported to be in talks with the Samoan born back.

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