The Leicester Tigers squad is forming before next season after the five more signings just announced.
Anthony Watson, Jimmy Gopperth, Olly Cracknell, James Cronin and Phil Cokanasiga will all be Tigers players next year, adding Handre Pollard to the incoming roster.
The newcomers followed the unveiling of five first-team contractors in the form of Sean Jansen, Harry Simmons, Richard Wigglesworth, Kini Murimurivalu and Chris Ashton.
The departures of Ellis Genge and George Ford to Bristol Bears and Sale Sharks were announced some time ago, while Dan Lancaster received an early release from his contract and joined Ealing Trailfinders.
But who else could walk out the door at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, or at least look over their shoulders after the latest arrow of contract extensions?
Position: Center | Age: 31 | Tiger applications: 32
The Argentina international ends the season strongly for Tigers, from the unloading and jinking running away at the Stoop, to the defensive solidity in chaos at home to Bristol, he has shown what he is made of.
Moroni is a high-class operator in the 13-channel, and even often plays on the wing for his country but may have to leave while the salary cap is tightened.
His place in the Cougars national event will not help his cause, where he is away for part of the season for the Rugby Championship, and next year, the World Cup. He also has the unenviable task of facing Guy Porter and Matt Scott in the battle for a central shirt, with both signing new deals and both being available more often due to a lack of international commitments.
The center is only 31, and at the peak of his powers, so there will be no shortage of offers if he leaves Leicester. No one could blame him for a lucrative move to France or Japan.
Position: Winger | Age: 34 | Tiger applications: 35
There has been a lot of speculation in recent months about the future of the great Fijian. Rumor has it that a return to Super Rugby could be on the cards with the Waratahs, with other parties said to be interested in acquiring his services.
When on the field and with the ball in those giant hands, he was great for Tigers, but there are several reasons why he may be on the road to the Welford Road exit gate.
For various reasons he has started only six games since the beginning of the year and if you look at that has been withheld; Guy Porter, Harry Potter, Ashton, Murimurivalu, Simmons and Watson’s recruiting, Tigers are well stocked for wing options – someone you feel will have to go to balance things out.
At age 34, personal reasons can come in handy. To end his playing career back in Australia close to family and friends must be attractive to him and his family. Or even a project to Super Rugby sides of Fijian Drua.
It would be a shame to see his very popular and influential character leave, but it feels like it’s on the cards.
Juan Pablo Socino
Position: Center | Age: 34 | Tiger applications: 9
The experienced Argentine arrived from Saracens last summer and could not make the effect he would have liked in the green, red and white. Only five times in the Champions Cup and Premiership Cup, he was firmly in the Premiership Cup group of players.
With Gopperth and Cokanasiga adding to the plentiful inside center options of Dan Kelly and Matt Scott, it is unlikely that there will be more playing time offer to Socino, who turned 34 today (May 30).
Position: Winger | Age: 30 | Tiger applications: 8
This is perhaps the most severe of these predictions, as Robinson arrived only in January with a loan deal from Cardiff. He was great in and around the squad – as evidenced by Steve Borthwick and even commanded the side on only his sixth appearance for the club. However, he only managed to start two games, and the competition for places in the sidelines will only increase over the next period.
Hanro Liebenberg, Ollie Chessum, Tommy Reffell, Olly Cracknell and Sean Jansen are an impressive roster of talents. This does not even include George Martin and Marco van Staden, and young Emeka Ilione and Tommy Agbongbon. He may be a very good chess player and a crash taker but it seems likely his days at Tigers are numbered. The situation with Marco van Staden – who has now not played for five months since his Boxing Day head injury against Bristol Bears – could also prove to be a major factor in Robinson being retained or not.
Position: Center | Age: 31 | Tiger applications: 19
It was back in July 2020 when the South African center’s contract was last extended. Who would have thought that the former Munster star would play only seven times in the two years since he put a pen on paper?
After missing more than a year due to a knee injury, Taute’s return to Newcastle in March lasted only nine minutes, when he suffered an apparent hamstring problem and we didn’t see him afterwards.
There is no shortage of options in the centers and if this is the last year of the current 31-year-old’s deal, it would be a big surprise to see him stay.
Position: Loosehead prop | Age: 26 | Tiger applications: 5
Signed before the 2021/22 season of the Jersey Reds, the loose back found a game time hard to reach with his five Tigers appearances all coming off the bench in the Premiership Cup. Richardson is no newcomer, he is 26 years old and has spent most of his season on loan at the Championship at Coventry.
One thing that could work in his favor is Genge’s imminent departure, leaving Tigers one short on the loosehead prop front, but he seems to be a little down the line and with the lowering salary cap, clubs are working, it seems with less front row. options. However, the ability to play on both sides of the melee does see him cover a number of bases.
Position: Wing | Age: 24 | Tiger applications: 41
August 30, 2020. This is when Jordan Olowofela last drew the green, red and white Leicester Tigers.
Since then he has spent time on loan at Western Force in Australia and a little closer to home for the Dragons in Wales. A similar argument could be made for Harry Simmons, who recently signed a new Tigers deal, but his positional versatility and success on loan at Jersey Reds would be motivating factors to retain. It’s hard to imagine where Olowofela is fit to move forward.
Position: Winger | Age: 25 | Tiger applications: 14
You have to go even further to find it Aspland-Robinson’s last appearance in Tigers, it came against Pau in November 2019 when he suffered an early injury. Since then, his rugby has been on loan at Coventry for the past two seasons where he was just a substitute in the Championship Cup final defeat to Ealing.
Position: Prop | Age: 28 | Tiger applications: 65
The nearly 150kg Samoan made 23 appearances for Tiger this season, but only three of them were from the start with his average contribution per appearance hovering around the 20-minute mark.
Leatigaga’s ability to play on both sides of the melee makes him valuable to Tigers but would also make him attractive to other clubs as well. He has a French club in his CV in Biarritz. It would not be a huge shock to see him return to France if his contract actually expires this summer.