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Friday Nov 3, 2023

The reason Anthony Watson chose to remain in the Premiership as opposed to moving to France

It has been a period of serious uncertainty for Anthony Watson, ever since his one-year contract at Leicester ran out at the end of last season. Still, it appears that despite the worrying times, the international winger now has a solid contract under his name.

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Leicester Tigers had chosen not to renew Watson’s contract heading into the World Cup, leaving the former Bath man in financial limbo as he edged closer to his 30th birthday. In his prime, but not getting any younger, the 56-cap England international was given a lifeline through a groundbreaking deal by the RFU, which saw Watson being contracted to the central governing body for the duration of the World Cup.

Off the field, his problems were solved for the time being, but on the pitch his injury issues were once again raising their ugly head. Despite the contract that allowed Watson to perform for England in the World Cup, he was to play no part in the most broadcast rugby competition of all time after suffering yet another calf injury.

“We are desperately disappointed for Anthony,” England head coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Sport at the time.

“He is an important member of this squad and one that has enormous respect from everybody. He has had setbacks before and always worked through them and I know he’ll be back on the field as soon as possible.”

Just a few months on, and the future is looking a lot rosier for Watson. The path to recovery is well underway, and a new contract has eventually been found.

Watson has agreed a deal with Leicester Tigers that will see Watson return to the fold in December, as he teams up with former England fullback Mike Brown, and England hopeful James Hassell-Collins.

Speaking ahead of his return, Watson explained the reason behind his resigning: “Ultimately, I came to join a great squad and win things and my goal hasn’t changed. I want to contribute to the success of the squad and organisation as much as possible. I’m excited for the year to come with this squad and with the new coaching staff.”

Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar added: “To secure a player of Anthony’s quality and experience on a new deal is fantastic news and I am certain our supporters are as pleased as we are with the announcement.

“He has played the game at the highest levels for a number of years and, after only one season at Leicester Tigers, has shown what a great asset he is, and his skill set certainly suits our game and where we want to take it.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Anthony back into the group in December.”

A Tigers statement read: “Leicester Tigers have agreed a new deal with Anthony Watson which will see the international return to the club from December,” 

“The 29-year-old represented Tigers during the 2022/23 season, after joining from Bath Rugby where he spent a decade and made more than 100 appearances for the Gallagher Premiership club.

“Watson joined Bath in 2013 from London Irish, where he made his professional debut after rising through the junior ranks of The Exiles.

“He represented England at Under-20 level, while with Irish, before making his senior Test debut for England in 2014.

“Watson has 55 international appearances for England, including the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups, and has played 5 Test matches for the British & Irish Lions after being selected for the 2017 and 2021 tours.”

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