Tuilagi could be snapped up by one of Leicester's rivals on the cheap

Manu Tuilagi could be snapped up by one of Leicester’s Premiership rivals in a cut-price deal as England coach Eddie Jones flies back from Japan in bid to hold on to centre

  • Tuilagi has been ‘stood down’ after refusing a new deal on reduced terms 
  • The 29-year-old is among six players preparing for a legal battle with Leicester 
  • He could sign a deal on reduced terms and claim the difference from the Tigers
  • Jones will fly back on Monday as England coach does not want him to go abroad 

Eddie Jones will fly back to the UK on Monday and seek urgent updates about Manu Tuilagi who could be snapped up by one of Leicester’s Premiership rivals in a cut-price deal which would prevent him from being lost to England.

The national coach is belatedly returning from Japan, where he was supposed to be guiding his team through a two-Test tour, to self-isolate and hope for good news about the availability of his centre.

After a decade of loyal service to Leicester, Tuilagi has been ‘stood down’, as one of six players who refused to agree new deals on reduced terms. 

Manu Tuilagi may abruptly leave Leicester Tigers with the star failing to sign a new contract

The 29-year-old, along with Greg Bateman, Kyle Eastmond, Noel Reid, Jordan Taufua and Telusa Veainu, are preparing for a legal battle with the club. They believe their employers are in breach of contract and that they have every right to claim damages.

Leading sports lawyers have indicated that Leicester ‘don’t have a leg to stand on’.

Sportsmail has learned that Tuilagi could be offered a modest contract by another Premiership club and he would be entitled to claim any deficit from his existing Tigers deal which runs until next summer.

When Sportsmail revealed that the midfielder had not met his club’s deadline to sign a new, reduced deal, there were immediate fears that he would go abroad. 

Eddie Jones will fly back on Monday as England coach does not want Tuilagi to go abroad

However, it appears other Premiership clubs could sign him on the cheap which would ensure he remains available for Test selection. This would come as a relief to Jones.

In principle, the leading English clubs are thought to have made a pact not to poach each other’s players in the event of universal pay cuts creating the threat of a mass exodus. This was a stance to try to force players to accept lower wages and stop them claiming the shortfall later.

However, there have been signs of tension among various Premiership rivals lately and the option of hiring Tuilagi for a modest sum could prove too hard to resist. He is sure to be the subject of lucrative offers from France but he would ideally wish to prolong his international career with a Lions tour on the horizon.

Tuilagi appears to have played his last game for Leicester. He had no desire to leave but stood his ground and now a move seems inevitable. Jones will hope it is within the Premiership.

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