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Leicester Tigers on verge of signing Saracens duo

By Ian Cameron
Will Nick Isiekwe announce himself as an England option now he is out of Maro Itoje's shadow at Saracens? (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers are closing in on the signatures of two Saracens stars as Geordan Murphy and Steve Borthwick look to rebuild the once-mighty Premiership outfit. In recent days soon to be Director of Rugby Murphy confirmed that the club were finalising a deal to sign a second row, an admission that came after an unlikely rumour linked England superstar Maro Itoje to a switch to Welford Road.

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“That (Itoje rumour) is not true. Like everything this season, we have been attached to quite a few rumours. Maro Itoje is a fantastic player but is not in our plans at present,” said Murphy. “We actually are in the process of finalising someone in that position and we will release that when we are ready, hopefully early next week.” 

However, RugbyPass understands that it is, in fact, Itoje’s Saracens teammate, Nick Isiekwe, who looks set to join on a loan deal. The 6’7, 120kg lock has earned three England caps to date and had been linked to Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks and Gloucester, but it seems that Leicester are now favourites to win the race to sign the highly-rated 22-year-old.

A year in the Championship could potentially slow the development of the towering forward, especially from an England selector point of view. A product of Saracens academy, Isiekwe was first capped as a 20-year-old in 2017, and would return to the Allianz Park in 2021.

At the end of April, Murphy vowed to add to the Leicester Tigers squad, namely in the back three. Following the exit of Jonah Holmes, Murphy said: “We are not done just yet in the recruitment space and still have additions to announce ahead of next season,” added Murphy. “Jonah’s departure not only offers opportunities for members of our squad we are confident can make the step up now but also spaces in the outside backs to fill with exciting, new additions to Tigers.”

RugbyPass understands that Leicester Tigers are also closing in on Saracens wing Alex Lewington.  The former Leicester Tigers man has enjoyed a breakout career since leaving Welford Road for London Irish in 2013 and latterly Saracens. 

The proven try scorer represented England Saxons in South Africa during the summer of 2016 and scored 24 tries in 63 matches for London Irish since joining from Leicester in 2013. Now 28, Lewington could potentially be returning to his former club on a permanent basis.

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While both deals are yet to be finalised, should they get over the line they would prove a major coup for Tigers, who have already secured the services of Nemani Nadolo, Cyle Brink and Matt Scott.

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Flankly 13 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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