Tuilagi’s Thousands

Posted: November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi has not played a minute of rugby in over a year. He was removed from Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup squad due to bring convicted of an altercation with police officers. In 2011, he was one of the names continually cropping up during World Cup, one in which English players were ridiculed for their behaviour and attitude. Again, to reiterate, he has not played a minute of rugby in over a year.

But here we are. Today, Manu Tuilagi is being chased by a number of clubs, wanting him to pen a deal which would catapult him into becoming one of the highest paid players in world rugby. Tigers’ boss Richard Cockerill has made his offer, as well as Wasps and Worcester. These offers would see him being paid over £500,000 a year to play in the Premiership, not to mention the other incoming offers from France.

The expansion of the Premiership’s salary cap by £1 million will allow clubs to bolster their squads and compete with the salary cap of French teams. English clubs are also now allowed a second marquee player which will be exempt from the cap. No doubt these teams want Tuilagi to be one of their two.

The centre has had a troublesome groin injury that has seen him sidelined for over a year, but Tigers boss Richard Cockerill has told BBC radio how he feels about the 24 year old:

“We have put our best foot forward, contractually. There are probably 10 years left in him and we would like him to be here for the next 10 years. We have made that known to him.

“He wants to stay here and we have made an offer that would make him up there with the highest-paid players in the world.

“We are just waiting for that answer. We would like to think that it will get done sooner rather than later.”

Worcester, however, have an offer that will make Tuilagi think twice. This deal would see the Samoan native earning £1.6 million over three years; £750,00 the first year with £450,000 in the following two. Dean Ryan has had his say on how he feels about the deal:

“I think everyone has to start understanding — that is the local media and the fans — it is about looking at where this club can go rather than to keep anchoring it to where it has come from.”

In my opinion, I don’t think Tuilagi is worth that amount just yet. His first World Cup was an absolute disaster, and be it an injury or an altercation that kept him out, he did not appear in this year’s competition either.

He was selected to travel to Australia in 2013 as part of the British and Irish Lions, but only appeared off the bench in the third test. The game was well and truly won by the time he togged off.

But he is a prodigy; there is no denying it. He is a monster of a centre, up there with the biggest in the world. He carries well, distributes excellently, and is a world class defender. But his rugby CV does not scream “World’s Best Player”. He has only accumulated 25 international caps since 2011.

Worcester have offered an annual sum similar to what Pau offered Conrad Smith, a winner of two World Cups. Jonny Wilkinson, the hero of 2003 when he kicked England to World Cup glory, was another on the A list at Toulon, earning an estimated €408,000 a year after tax. Do Tuilagi’s credentials match up? Not at all.

No doubt Tuilagi is a fantastic English, premiership player, but so are Owen Farrell, Brad Barrett and Henry Slade. They all travelled to the World Cup this year too, and have all played at least one game of rugby in the previous twelve months.

Whichever club Tuilagi does commit himself to, it needs to be in the Premiership. Eddie Jones, the new England coach, will not select foreign-based players, which would mean putting the third World Cup of Tuilagi’s career in jeopardy. He deserves to shine in one of them.

Tuilagi may also flourish under Jones, who is renowned for getting the best from his players. Perhaps, under his tutelage, Tuilagi may become the second “million pound man of rugby”. But not yet.

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