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