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Manu Tuilagi has agreed to a move to Bayonne, officially ending his career with the England rugby team.
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Manu Tuilagi has agreed to a move to Bayonne, officially ending his career with the England rugby team.

Manu Tuilagi has signed a two-year contract with Bayonne that will begin in the summer, effectively marking the end of his time playing for England. The 32-year-old recently made his final appearance as a substitute in the match against France and is now planning to make himself unable to play for England by joining the Top 14 team.

Numerous clubs expressed interest in signing Tuilagi, but it is rumored that after the Six Nations, he went to Bayonne on Monday for a medical examination. If he passes all the required evaluations, he will become a member of the currently ninth-ranked club in the Top 14.

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His time playing for the national team of England will come to a close after earning 60 appearances. He first played in 2011, however, Tuilagi could have achieved even more if not for a series of injuries. He left Leicester Tigers after an 11-year tenure in 2020 and joined Sale. Sale was initially willing to keep Tuilagi on for another year, but due to salary cap limitations, it was not possible. The Sharks recently announced the acquisition of Waisea Nayacalevu, the captain of Fiji’s team, to fill Tuilagi’s position.

Tuilagi can list his breakthrough performance against New Zealand in 2012 and his World Cup semi-final showing against the All Blacks in 2019 as his greatest achievements in an England shirt. Steve Borthwick last week spoke of how he hoped Tuilagi would remain in England – and therefore eligible for selection – but it is understood he has not been offered an “enhanced” contract by the Rugby Football Union for next season.

Tuilagi’s move means that, next season, no fewer than eight of Borthwick’s 2023 World Cup squad will be playing in France, with Billy Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler potentially taking the total to double figures. Borthwick will be able to offer enhanced contracts to 25 players – Jamie George and Maro Itoje are the only known members of his squad to have received offers so far – but, in the meantime, the exodus to France is continuing.

Borthwick stated, “Not all details have been officially confirmed. I am eagerly anticipating receiving and comprehending them.”

Source: theguardian.com