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Recruitment tzar explains the 'harsh reality' behind why Leicester Tigers dumped 21 players

By Ian Cameron
Jonny May

Leicester Tigers Head of Elite Recruitment Jan McGinty and soon to be Director of Rugby Geordan Murphy have addressed the mass clear-out of players at Welford Road. The club confirmed the departures of 21 players this week.


Former England captain Borthwick takes over from the long-serving Murphy in July, who himself is set to move into the position of director of rugby. Comments from the club suggest that neither were satisfied with a significant number of their current squad of players as they now look to rebuild the side from the ground up.

Leicester Tigers recruitment already includes Nemani Nadolo (from Montpellier), as well as flyhalf Zack Henry (from USO Nevers) and Ireland U20s star Dan Kelly, while in the forward pack Cyle Brink (from the Lions),  Shalva Mamukashvili (Enseai-STM) and young locks Cameron Henderson (Glasgow Warriors) and Oliver Chessum (Nottingham) have all signed on at Welford Road.

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The exiting column of the ledger is significantly deeper however. England star Jonny May is returning to Gloucester after three seasons with Tigers while Jonah Holmes has been released from the final year of his contract so he can return to play in Wales. Adam Thompstone is another one of the most notable names on the list, and he is joined by fellow backs EW Viljoen and Joe Thomas. Forwards Tatafu Polota-Nau, Gaston Cortes, Sione Kalamafoni, Owen Hills and Will Spencer will also be leaving the club when their contracts end at the conclusion of the 2019/20 season. The club had previously confirmed that Guy Thompson would also be leaving, while scrum-half Sam Harrison left in January.

“We go through these numbers every year,” Murphy told the club website. “The guys leaving have given their all for Tigers and we are grateful for that but people move on in professional sport … we are trying to build and move in a new direction and we are really focused on that.

“The harsh reality is the club has been 11th for consecutive seasons, we have to make changes. We have not been good enough, we need to start a new journey.”

“We have not been good enough, we needed to change. My aspiration for the Tigers is to be back to the top of the table and back to winning things. That does not happen automatically.


“But you go back to the things that make Leicester Tigers very good, these guys will drive that and it will be an exciting journey but I am confident we will be on the right track.”

The man in-charge of recruitment at the club, Jan McGinty, suggested that ultimately the Murphy and Borthwick were the drivers behind the mass exodus.

“Sometimes tough decisions have to be made,” said McGinty. “In this time there is a lot of uncertainty and it is tough to inform individuals they are no longer going to be part of the journey … Geordan wanted to change the squad and Steve Borthwick has certain thoughts as well.

“We want guys to be here for a long time, but in some instances we need to change that dynamic. Geordan inherited a situation, a lot of which he could not change.”


“It takes time to make changes. We have hopefully got some stability to allow Geordan to have that time.

“In some regards Geordan has been firefighting but it is just the start of this journey. We want success in the long term but it takes time to establish those foundations.”


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