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Leicester Tigers sign Marfo, Van Wyk and Van Staden; announce host of new contracts

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Leicester Tigers sign Marfo, Van Wyk and Van Staden; announce host of new contracts

By Sam Smith

It’s been a busy morning for Leicester Tigers with the club announcing a handful of contract renewals, as well as some new signings to boost the front-row stocks. Tigers have have announced that Scotland international Darryl Marfo will join the club on a short-term contract. The loosehead prop, who was most recently with Edinburgh, previously played for Premiership clubs Harlequins and Bath.

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The 30-year-old has three Test caps to his name, starting against Samoa, New Zealand and Australia during Scotland’s 2017 autumn internationals.

Marfo joins the Tigers with immediate effect and has already linked up with the squad this week at the club’s Oval Park training ground.

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Speaking about the addition of Marfo, Leicester Tigers Head Coach Steve Borthwick said: “We are pleased to welcome Darryl to the club and looking forward to seeing what he can contribute in the Leicester front row.

“He is an international player who has experience in the Premiership and adds depth to our squad in the loosehead position.

“It’s important we continue to promote competitiveness within our ranks for places in the team.”

Marfo added: “I am extremely grateful for this special opportunity for me to be a part of Leicester Tigers.

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“Whilst I am here I am committed to doing everything I can, to contribute to the club being successful, in Steve’s mould.

“To do that I know I have to put the team first always and work as hard as I can every day that I am here.”

Marfo will be joined at Tigers by South African front-rower Francois Van Wyk, who will make the move from Northampton Saints ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The 29-year-old has spent the last four seasons with the Saints, and previously lined out for Super Rugby side Western Force.

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Bothwick said: “We are excited to have someone of his experience, ability and character join us in Leicester.

“Francois has played top-flight rugby in both hemispheres and will add vital depth to our front row ranks at Tigers from next season.

“Our conversations ahead of his signing have been very impressive and what has shone through has been his willingness to contribute to what we are building at Leicester Tigers and his passion to be a member of our club.

“As we continue to re-shape this squad, people of his character are as important as what they contribute on the pitch.”

“When Steve told me the Tigers were interested in me, I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Van Wyk said.

“His ambition for the club was very impressive and it played a big part in my decision. The way he spoke about the players and people at the club was inspiring, it was a done deal for me after speaking to him.”

Fellow South African Marco Van Staden will also join ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The Springboks flanker will join Tigers from Super Rugby side The Bulls, with who Van Staden starred for in their recent Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup competition-winning campaigns.

Capable of playing across the back-row, the 25-year-old was selected to make his Test debut for the Springboks against Argentina in 2019, before narrowly missing out on selection in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad.

“He is a tough, hard-working, competitive player who we are confident will add to what we are building here at Leicester Tigers,” Borthwick said.

“What stood out for me when talking to Steve is that the club is working together towards one goal of getting the club back to the top,” said Van Staden.

“I like the physical parts of the game and will do my best to add to the team in those areas. I believe the style of the game in the Premiership suits me, in the physical battles, and am really looking forward to playing that style of rugby at Leicester Tigers.”

In further good news for Leicester supporters, the club have announced that Fiji superstar Nemani Nadolo has committed to a new contract.

Nadolo is just one of a number of players to agree new deals with the Tigers.

South African back rower Jasper Wiese has put pen-to-paper on a new deal. The 25-year-old joined Tigers ahead of the 2020/21 season and has made eight appearances, scoring three tries.

Club legend Dan Cole is also staying put. Cole, 33, has made 253 senior appearances for the club since debuting in 2007 after graduating from the Tigers Academy.

Cole has made 98 Test appearances, including 95 for England, and averaged more than 20 games per season for Leicester since his first full season in the senior team.

Leicester have also confirmed that young players James Whitcombe, Dan Kelly and Ollie Chessum have all signed new contracts.

Academy graduate front-rower Whitcombe, 20, made his senior debuts in both Premiership and European rugby this season.

Kelly, 19, has made eight senior appearances for the Tigers since joining the club last summer.

Leicester local Chessum, 20, joined from Championship club Nottingham Rugby and has made five senior appearances since debuting in the recommenced 2019/20 campaign, scoring his debut try in the club’s Premiership win over London Irish in Round 12 of the 2020/21 season.

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