Departing Leicester Tigers prop Greg Bateman has said the only appropriate thing to do during “difficult circumstances” is thank the club’s fans after he ended his five years at Welford Road.

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As a result of the financial pressures put on Gallagher Premiership sides, Leicester players were given an ultimatum to sign a new contract with a pay cut, but Bateman was one player who refused to do so.

His exit was announced soon after alongside other high-profile names such as Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veainu and Kyle Eastmond. The 31-year-old has now addressed the situation on Instagram but chose not to divulge what the players’ views are. 

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He said: “Obviously people want to know our side of the story but the only appropriate thing to do now is to say thank you to the Welford Road faithful for your support and kindness. Also to the lads for being some of the best teammates and friends in the game.

“Sorry I didn’t get the opportunity to ride the wave with you all any longer but I leave with friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”

The loosehead joined the Tigers from Exeter Chiefs in 2015 and went on to play almost 100 games for the English giants. However, given his abrupt and unexpected exit, he has been deprived of the farewell that many players would like.

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His exit means his last appearance for the Tigers was a 24-13 loss to Saracens at Allianz Park in March, the club’s last game before rugby was suspended. 

Bateman went on to describe his disappointment in how he has left the club while praising his teammates for their conduct during these times. He said: “I’m sad I’m leaving Leicester Tigers after five years without being able to say a heartfelt goodbye. But I’m proud to have represented the club. 

“I’m also proud of the boys for remaining professional under difficult circumstances. I’m grateful for the opportunities gained both professionally and personally. 

“Thank you to all of the supporters who have stuck by the lads over the last few difficult seasons and have shown me such kindness through a difficult personal time. I hope for everyone’s sake the club gets to where it wants to. For now, it’s on to the next challenge for me whatever that might be.” 

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As Bateman expressed, he endured a difficult time personally while with the Tigers, being open and candid about his battle with depression and providing a vivid account of what he has experienced. There is no news yet as to what the next step of his career will be.

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