Leicester Tigers face mid-field void as five players set to leave
Five Leicester Tigers players could be set to depart the club following confirmation that a ‘small number of players will be leaving’ Welford Road. Ellis Genge, George Ford and Tomas Lavanini all signed new contracts before yesterday’s self-imposed club deadline, but the club could face a midfield vacuum, with three centres yet to sign contracts.
England centre Manu Tuilagi and four other players could be heading to the exit after missing the signing deadline. RugbyPass understands that as well as Tuilagi – Noel Reid, Kyle Eastmond, Telusa Veainu and Greg Bateman (at least) have all missed the Tuesday 30th deadline.
Tuilagi is one of the club’s highest-paid players, and his exit would be a major blow to Steve Borthwick’s new era. The Samoan born centre has played his entire career at Welford Road. Against this, his reported £500,000 a year salary and his history of injury would take the sting out of any departure.
Tuilagi was linked with Racing 92 in previous seasons and undoubtedly would find willing suitors in Japan and France. A move out of England, however, would mean he could no longer represent Eddie Jones’ Test side.
If Tuilagi, Reid and Eastmond were all to leave, it would leave a considerable hole in Tigers’ midfield stocks. Tigers have signed Scotland international Matt Scott and utility back/flyhalf Zack Henry, who will go some way to bolstering their centre options.
A statement from Leicester Tigers confirmed that a ‘small number of players will be leaving’.
“Difficult decisions have had to be made, including salary reductions, reduced working time and using the furlough scheme as well as a redundancy process which concludes today and could potentially lead to the departure of up to 31 members of staff. In addition, a small number of players will leave Tigers to seek new opportunities elsewhere. We wish them well for the future.
“The players were asked to accept reduced wages and, following feedback, we created a mechanism through which a proportion of forgone earnings could be reclaimed when the Club returns to profitability. At the same time, salaries of lower-paid players beginning their professional careers were protected. In common with other Club employees, these changes resulted from detailed explanations of the Club’s financial position and the necessity of the measures being taken.”
The vast majority of the Gallagher Premiership had been driving home new pay cuts before the June 18th Premiership Rugby Ltd deadline, a date prior to which any contract will be considered current and thus able to be counted at just 75 per cent for the purpose of the new £5 million salary cap.
The Telegraph’s Charlie Morgan revealed over the weekend how as much as third of the squad at up in revolt over the new payouts. Tigers’ players have already been hit with 25 per cent reductions to their salaries, and the club are now looking to make further reductions through negotiating new contracts.
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