Cockerill angered by rivals’ obscene offers for Tuilagi

Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill

Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill has revealed his anger that Manu Tuilagi “has had his head turned ” by big money offers from Premiership Rugby rivals Worcester Warriors and Wasps.

Twenty-four-year-old Tuilagi is set to become the Aviva Premiership’s highest paid player when his contract comes up for renewal at the end of the season.

Cockerill says that he can’t be sure which way Tuilagi will go in the future but the Tigers boss is angered by the thought of a player leaving who they have stuck by through the good times and the bad times.

“We’ve put our best foot forward, ” Cockerill told the Guardian.

“but he’s had his head turned by offers that would turn your head. In the end it is always about the money. ”

“We’ve offered him a very good contract, which would make him a very well-paid player within the world structure, never mind Leicester, and we’d love him to stay. He wants to stay but ultimately somebody’s worth what someone’s prepared to pay. ”

Cockerill is hoping that Tuilagi will remain loyal to the club inspite of what he has called “obscene amounts ” from other clubs who he feels have jumped the gun with their early offers.

“Firstly I was under the impression that you weren’t allowed to speak to anyone until January, but c’est la vie. The only way to prise away a player like Manu is to offer obscene amounts, and that might do it. Then the only reason you’re going is for the money. ”

Premier Rugby raised the salary cap recently for next season from £6.5m and to £7m for the season after that and Cockerill says that these increases just lead to bigger offers and not better quality.

“I’ve played in France [whose looser budgets have prompted the increases], ” Cockerill said.

“What they put out on the field is generally no better, it’s just more expensive. If the salary cap goes up, the first thing an agent says is: ‘Well, that excuse has gone now.’ Bigger salary caps just lead to bigger salaries in my experience. ”

Cockerill has also warned that any club that poaches Tuilagi from Leicester will have to fit his big salary into their own overall salary cap.

The new Premiership regulations allow for two marquee players to be signed by the club and can be excluded from the cap but the first player must be either be new to the English Premiership or to have been with his club for two seasons

“If Manu goes to Worcester for the reported £750k – and 10% agent’s fees, and VAT on agent’s fees, and national insurance on agent’s fees and national insurance on the salary – that £900k or so must go completely into the cap, because he’s come from us. That’s the regulations. Whether they’re followed, who knows … ”

“The reality is, if he (Tuilagi) comes back in the new year for us [as he is on course to], he’s played 14 games in two and a half years, ” Cockerill said.

“That’s not a criticism but I’d like to think people realise the club’s been pretty good to him. I’m comfortable what we’ve done with Manu is the right thing. I think he is too and I’ve every reason to believe he’ll stay at the club. “

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