Leicester Tigers’ stalwart Manu Tuilagi is to leave Welford Road at the end of the season, having signed a lucrative contract that will see him play his rugby in the Top 14 – RugbyPass understands.
Tuilagi – who was coming to the end of his Tigers’ contract – was spotted at Racing 92’s training facilities last week, sparking fears that the Samoan born back had had his head turned by the French giants.
The noises emanating from Leicester had not been promising for Tigers fans. On the weekend headcoach Geordan Murphy addressed the rumours on BT Sport, saying: “He is perfectly within his rights to have a look around. Hopefully we will be able to keep Manu, but sometimes it’s not possible.”
Multiple sources have told RugbyPass this morning that the much-touted move has now been confirmed and we understand that the England centre has signed the contract that will take him to the Parisian club.
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Leicester Tigers were simply unable to compete with the financial might of the Racing and its billionaire benefactor – Jacky Lorenzetti. It was reported last week by the Daily Mail that Racing had offered him £2.5 million over three years, which works out at £830,000 per annum.
Tuilagi’s imminent departure will be an end of an era at Welford Road, the club where he has played all his professional rugby.
Tuilagi – who has a RugbyPass Index score of 72 – made his professional debut with Leicester in 2010, and has amassed more than 140 appearances for the club in an injury-stricken-nine-year spell.
He made his international debut a year later for England, and currently has 31 test appearances to his name, which includes a cap for the British and Irish Lions against Australia in 2013.
A move across the Channel to the Top 14 in the coming months would make Tuilagi ineligible for further international selection after the World Cup, as English players signed to offshore clubs are considered unavailable.
Given their prowess both domestically and in European competitions, Racing 92 would appear to be an ideal location for Tuilagi to add to the solitary Premiership title he won with Leicester in 2013.
After two strong showing in the opening fortnight of the Six Nations, Tuilagi is likely to be back in action this weekend when England take on Wales at Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
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