Steve Diamond’s Sale Sharks have apparently won the race to sign England centre Manu Tuilagi – according to a report in The Telegraph.

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Dan Schofield reports that now-former Leicester Tigers centre is set to sign for the rest of the current season with the Sharks, after being officially released by the Tigers. Tuilagi was one of five players stood down last week after failing to reach agreement with the club on their pay, of which all other contracted members of the squad for the period from July 1, 2020, agreed to due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Steve Diamond told RugbyPass that Sale Sharks had held no talks with Tuilagi, words many speculated meant the club were in fact about to sign him. Diamond told RugbyPass: “We have had no discussions about Manu Tuilagi. People see what we are doing and our ability get everything sorted unlike other clubs. I think we are being dragged into it and I know Manu’s agent well and I trust him not to have brought us into it and I don’t know if it is the current club throwing it around to try and force the arm of the individual. I am very direct and, generally, I will say if we are or not.

“If players do become available of a high calibre as long as we are not contravening any regulations then we will look at other players. Financially we would be able to do that, however, we are going through a very intense schedule to get these Premiership games played and we are going to be playing Saturday, Wednesday, Sunday by the looks of it three or four times. Nobody knows where we are with the global season and I am just trying to future proof things.”

Elsewhere Tigers back row Jordan Taufua was “afforded an extended period of consultation after being quarantined following his return to Leicester from New Zealand, is still in conversations with the club.”

The club said: “In line with club policy and out of respect to Jordan regarding this confidential matter, Tigers will not comment on these ongoing discussions.”

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