Manu Tuilagi completes move to Sale Sharks

Manu Tuilagi has completed his switch from Leicester Tigers to Gallagher Premiership rivals Sale Sharks.

The 29-year-old will keep his England career alive by staying on home soil, after agreeing a deal with Sale that runs until the end of the 2020/2021 campaign.

The 43-cap England centre was a free agent after rejecting a 25 per cent pay cut and leaving Leicester Tigers, the club he joined as a teenager.

Tuilagi will now be available for Sale’s push towards the play-offs when the current Premiership season resumes next month after the coronavirus shutdown.

The Sharks sit second place in the league standings, and British and Irish Lions powerhouse Tuilagi’s addition will prove a real coup for boss Steve Diamond’s side.

“We contacted Manu’s agent and Leicester Tigers last week to discuss the player’s current position,” said Sale rugby director Diamond.

“After discussions on Friday, all parties – Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi and Sale Sharks – agreed that the player was a free agent and was able to enter into negotiations with another club.

“Manu will be a fantastic commercial and playing addition to our squad and I am looking forward to seeing him join up with the lads at Carrington this week.”

Tuilagi’s England career would have stalled had he moved abroad, with lucrative offers available to the Samoa-born star in both France and Japan.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) continues to stand by its position of not selecting overseas-based players.

Tuilagi headed a group of players able to leave Leicester as free agents effectively due to breach of contract.

The PA news agency understands the highly-regarded England mainstay has the ability to sue the Tigers for constructive dismissal.

Leicester insisted they had been forced into drastic cost-cutting measures to offset the coronavirus’ impact, making 31 redundancies across club staff.

Players were asked to take salary cuts, and those that refused opted to leave.

In confirming departures including that of Tuilagi, Leicester chief executive Andrea Pinchen said: “The majority of people are going down that path with us, and a handful couldn’t.”

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