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Leicester sign Welsh centre Thomas

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Leicester Tigers land Welsh centre Thomas and agree new deal for England U20 prop Heyes

Leicester Tigers have made their eighth signing ahead of the new season by landing Welsh centre Joe Thomas.

They have also locked down one of their hottest prospects, prop Joe Heyes.

Thomas joins new recruits Jordan Taufua, Tomas Lavanini, Calum Green, Noel Reid, Jaco Taute, Nephi Leitigaga and Charlie Clare at Welford Road as Geordan Murphy reshapes his squad.

Thomas, a Grand Slam winner with Wales Under-20s in 2016, played 18 times for the Ospreys before moving to play club rugby in New Zealand this year.

He started his career with Aberavon and Swansea before earning PRO14 experience with the Ospreys and also had a loan spell with the Dragons.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said: “Joe has a very good skill-set, he was highly rated on his way through the ranks in Wales and now he is keen to come in here and take on a new challenge with Leicester.”

The 23-year-old Thomas, who returns to the UK after a spell with Waikato club Otorohanga in New Zealand, said: “I’m really excited about the opportunity to join Leicester Tigers. They are a massive club in the Gallagher Premiership with a big history of success.

“I can’t wait to get started. It will be great to be able to learn off some great coaches and compete and play alongside great players.”

Heyes is England Under-18s and 20’s international. He made 22 senior appearances in his debut senior season for Leicester and is currently in Argentina at his second World Rugby Under-20s Championship.

“Joe was fast-tracked into senior rugby last season and showed great resilience throughout a tough and long campaign,” Murphy said.

“He is in good hands under the guidance of Boris Stankovich and has come on in leaps and bounds in a short time already.

“It is very exciting that, at just 20 years of age, he still has a lot of improvement in him and wants to continue his development in Leicester.”

Heyes added: “Ever since I joined the club, Leicester have supported and guided me all the way to be a better person on and off the pitch.

“Geordie has a great vision for the future of the club and I want to play my part in it, however big or small it may be.

“Tigers was the first rugby club I supported and Welford Road was the first rugby venue I went to. So, to be able to play for Leicester Tigers at somewhere as special as Welford Road, in front of a passionate and enthusiastic crowd, is a dream come true.

“I want to keep learning and develop as much as I can. I just want to play for Leicester Tigers because it’s a dream and I absolutely love wearing the shirt.”

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Leicester Tigers land Welsh centre Thomas and agree new deal for England U20 prop Heyes