Aviva Premiership: Leicester Tigers confirm Freddie Burns signing
Aviva Premiership: Leicester Tigers confirm the signing of Freddie Burns from rivals Gloucester
Leicester Tigers have confirmed the signing of England outside-half Freddie Burns from Aviva Premiership rivals Gloucester.
The England international, 24, replaces Toulouse-bound Toby Flood to compete with rising Welsh star Owen Williams, who impressed at Welford Road this season to keep Flood out of the starting XV at times.
Everyone wants young English players and I’ve got one of the hottest talents at 10 in the English game
Burns has been widely tipped as Flood’s successor after it was announced in December that he was heading to France, but his form suffered and Gloucester eventually slumped to ninth in the league this season.
The Kingsholm outfit had such a bad season after being tipped as potential Premiership finalists that they dispensed with director of rugby Nigel Davies earlier this month and his Tigers counterpart Richard Cockerill believes the move will make Burns into a better player.
“Freddie is a very good player and he has had a tough year,” Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury. “It will take him a little while to adapt but he will benefit from our environment.
“He will be playing in a good side that is very disciplined. He will be asked to conform to what we do and how we do things and he will be better for it—as Toby Flood was after he joined us.
“Issues with players generally come from lack of leadership. He will know exactly what is required from us as a club and as coaches.”
Burns was England’s outside-half on last summer’s tour of Argentina with Owen Farrell on the British and Irish Lions tour, but fell down the international pecking order earlier this year and saw his role limited to being part of the training squad.
News of Bath’s George Ford expected to undergo shoulder surgery next week could see Burns parachuted into a starting berth for England’s first Test in New Zealand next month.
Farrell and Stephen Myler are set to play in the Aviva Premiership final for Saracens and Northampton Saints, respectively, on 31 May and Danny Cipriani not fully up to speed with England’s systems after six years away from the international set-up.
“Everyone wants young English players and I’ve got one of the hottest talents at 10 in the English game,” Cockerill told BBC Leicester.
“When he’s as good as he can be, he’s as good as anybody. He’s coming to one of the toughest environments that will cut no quarter for him, so let’s see how he gets on.”
Cockerill also confirmed a trio of signings from Italy as Tonga-born Japanese international centre Christian Loamanu, and Italian internationals Leonardo Ghiraldini and Robert Barbieri all join from Benetton Treviso, with Castres’s 35-year-old Fijian outside-half Seremaia Bai providing cover for Burns and Williams.