Anthony Watson joins Leicester Tigers; Jimmy Gopperth’s arrival from Wasps confirmed | Rugby Union News

The British & Irish Lion will make the move from Bath to Leicester Tigers at the end of the season; Jimmy Gopperth’s move from Wasps confirmed; Chris Ashton and Richard Wigglesworth sign new contracts with the Tigers

Last Updated: 12/05/22 8:20pm

Anthony Watson will make the move from Bath to Leicester Tigers

Anthony Watson will make the move from Bath to Leicester Tigers

Leicester has announced the signing of England and British & Irish Lions star Anthony Watson.

Amid a flurry of activity at the Tigers, they also confirmed fly-half Jimmy Gopperth’s arrival from Wasps for next season, while Chris Ashton and Richard Wigglesworth have agreed new contracts.

Watson has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury seven months ago, but he is thought to be closing in on a Bath return before the current campaign ends.

The wing or full-back, who joined Bath from London Irish nine years ago, made his England debut in 2014 and has gone on to win 51 caps.

Watson also toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2017 and South Africa last summer, making a total of five Test appearances.

“Anthony is a world-class player who has played at the highest levels of the game over a number of seasons,” Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick said.

“While he has reached great heights, he is incredibly keen to develop his game, he remains ambitious and has a lot more he wants to achieve.

Anthony Watson is a two-time British & Irish Lions tourist

Anthony Watson is a two-time British & Irish Lions tourist

“I am fortunate to have worked with Anthony with the England team and on the British and Irish Lions tour in 2017, and have seen first-hand what a professional he is.

“It is very exciting to be adding a player and person of his caliber to what we are building at Leicester Tigers.”

Watson added: “I want to be successful, of course, but I also want to improve as a player.

“And Tigers is an environment where I believe I will be able to become the best player I can possibly be while, most importantly, being a part and contributing to the team being the best it can be.

“Having worked with him before, I know how Steve goes about his business, and the opportunity to work with him, his coaching team and this group at Leicester Tigers is an exciting one.”

Jimmy Gopperth sits in fourth place on the Premiership's all-time points-scorer list

Jimmy Gopperth sits in fourth place on the Premiership’s all-time points-scorer list

Joining Watson and Gopperth as Leicester newcomers will be London Irish pair Phil Cokanasiga and Olly Cracknell, plus Ireland international prop James Cronin from Biarritz.

Gopperth has won both the Premiership Player of the Year and RPA Players’ Player of the Year awards, as well as the Golden Boot in 2016/17 as the league’s top points-scorer.

On recruiting the vastly-experienced New Zealander, Borthwick said: “Jimmy has shown for a number of years in some of the world’s most competitive and tough environments that he is a world-class player.

“A prolific points-scorer capable of playing in various positions, he not only adds valuable depth to our squad, but an incredible amount of experience and knowledge.”

Chris Ashton has agreed a new deal after initially signing a short-term contract

Chris Ashton has agreed a new deal after initially signing a short-term contract

Ashton, meanwhile, won the last of his 44 England caps in February 2019.

The 35-year-old joined the Tigers on a short-term contract earlier this season. He has made nine appearances since his debut in February, and his hat-trick against Bristol last month saw him become the Premiership’s all-time top try scorer.

Wigglesworth, who is nearing his 39th birthday, will continue a dual role of player and attack coach.

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