Youngs: ‘Amaz­ing ser­vant’ Tuilagi has played his last game for Le­ices­ter

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ben Coles

Ben Youngs has re­jected any prospect of Manu Tuilagi re­join­ing Le­ices­ter Tigers fol­low­ing the ex­pi­ra­tion of his con­tract.

Tuilagi failed to agree a re­duced con­tract with the 10-time Premier­ship cham­pi­ons be­fore a dead­line of Mon­day night and has left the club along with five other play­ers. One of that group, Telusa Veainu, was an­nounced as a sign­ing by Stade Fran­cais on Tues­day.

Youngs said that he thought any pos­si­bil­ity of Tuilagi agree­ing new terms had been and gone. “I don’t know if there is that op­por­tu­nity [for Tuilagi to re­join], to be hon­est,” the scrum-half said. “As far as I’m aware, we had a dead­line. I would be very sur­prised if that was the case [for him to re­join].

“You don’t make those de­ci­sions [to leave] un­less you re­ally weigh it up. To then go full cir­cle in a week’s time would seem a lit­tle bit crazy.”

Which­ever club Tuilagi ends up at, Youngs backed him to be in con­tention for next year’s Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions tour to South Africa, hav­ing pre­vi­ously toured with the side in 2013, and also recog­nised the legacy of the Tuilagi broth­ers af­ter more than 20 years com­bined at Welford Road.

“Manu is an ex­cep­tional tal­ent,” Youngs said. “I am sure he has ev­ery op­por­tu­nity of mak­ing that Lions tour, whether he is play­ing in England or not.

“For me, I’ll see where it goes and if I get the op­por­tu­nity, then great.

“Do I feel let down by Manu? Ab­so­lutely not. He has given a huge ca­reer to Le­ices­ter and his fam­ily has been a dy­nasty. There comes a time in any­one’s ca­reer when you change it up.

“Manu has been an amaz­ing ser­vant to Le­ices­ter, along with all of his broth­ers, and he now has an op­por­tu­nity to go some­where else.

The club will look to strengthen in those po­si­tions.

“If you didn’t agree to it there was a good chance you would be stood down, and that hap­pened. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a de­ci­sion made lightly.”

Le­ices­ter con­firmed con­tract ex­ten­sions yes­ter­day for Youngs, on a long-term deal, plus England team-mates El­lis Genge and Ge­orge Ford, and South African back Jaco Taute. Youngs, who ad­mit­ted he turned down an op­por­tu­nity to leave Le­ices­ter years ago, hailed the ar­rival of Steve Borth­wick as head coach from the England staff, along with the re­cruit­ment of Aled Walters, who has joined as strength and con­di­tion­ing coach from the Spring­boks. “We have a great coach­ing set-up,” Youngs said. “We have the best op­por­tu­nity I have ever had at Le­ices­ter.” The 30-year-old is stranded on 99 caps for England af­ter the sus­pen­sion of the Six Na­tions, and said that he hoped the side’s sched­ule for the au­tumn would be con­firmed “soon”.

Gone: Manu Tuilagi failed to agree terms

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