Bristol Bears are poised to shake up the rugby world by swooping in for England powerhouse Manu Tuilagi as he prepares to depart Sale Sharks at the end of the season.
Despite expectations of an exit last season, Tuilagi opted for a surprising one-year extension, keeping him at the club until the close of the 2023/24 campaign.
Hailing from the esteemed Samoan rugby dynasty, with five brothers preceding him at Leicester Tigers, Tuilagi’s impact on the English scene has been nothing short of monumental since qualifying on residency grounds.
Whispers suggest Bristol Bears’ head honcho Pat Lam holds a keen interest in securing Tuilagi’s services, pending the crucial factor of whether the RFU extends a central contract offer.
Such contracts, spanning one to three years, are rumored to fetch around £150,000 annually, replacing the current pay-per-play structure of £23,000 per Test appearance. The aim? Stemming the tide of talent migration to leagues abroad.
Meanwhile, Sale Sharks are already eyeing up replacements for the departing Tuilagi, with former Wasps stalwart Sam Spink on their radar, according to Rugby Pass.
Spink, currently with Western Force, will be up for grabs come November, attracting interest from a cluster of Premiership outfits.
“Back from injury” – Steve Borthwick to recall four England stars for Scotland clash
Exploring potential additions to the squad ahead of their clash with Scotland in two weeks time, we pinpoint three players whom the England boss should consider calling up.
#1. Manu Tuilagi
After narrowly defeating Wales, Borthwick confirmed that the formidable centre was on the verge of returning from injury. It’s evident that England is currently lacking a robust ball carrier in the midfield, and with Ollie Lawrence presumably still recovering, Tuilagi appears to be the logical choice.
Tuilagi sat out the beginning of the tournament due to a groin injury sustained in Sale’s triumph over Saracens in December. The 32-year-old played a crucial role in England’s midfield during the recent World Cup, making it probable that Borthwick will call upon him for the upcoming match at Murrayfield.
During the World Cup, Tuilagi faced setbacks, breaking his hand twice – first in England’s encounter with Samoa and then in the third-place playoff against Argentina. Throughout his career, he has grappled with a persistent groin issue in its early stages and more recently encountered challenges with both hamstrings.