Leicester Tigers ‘first in line’ to sign England and Lions star Anthony Watson from Bath

England winger Anthony Watson has been repeatedly linked with an exit from Bath in recent months, with Leicester Tigers now believed to be in ‘pole position’ for his signature.

Anthony Watson is set for a transfer away from Bath this summer

Premiership leaders Leicester Tigers are believed to be leading the pack of suitors vying to sign Bath and England winger Anthony Watson.

It first emerged towards the end of 2021 that Watson, 28, had decided “the time had come” to end his nine-year stint at the Rec. The news naturally sparked a flurry of interest in the 51-cap England speedster, with Wasps, sales sharks and former London Irish employers among those linked to his services.

Exit rumors have since cooled, which may have been influenced by news that Munster head coach Johann van Graan is set to take over as Bath boss next season. However, uncertainty still reigns over Watson’s future, and the Daily Mail has reported that Leicester appear most likely to lure the star out of Somerset.

The two-time British and Irish Lions tourist had been strongly linked with a return to London Irish, who he left to join Bath in 2013. However, former Scottish lock Jim Hamilton said The rugby module co-hosts Andy Goode and Andy Rowe this move may not be possible as the club “didn’t have the dollar”.

Wasps are also apparently feeling the pinch of changing Premiership regulations, with stars Vaea Fifita, Thomas Young, Malakai Fekitoa and Jimmy Gopperth all leaving this summer. From next season, the salary cap budget will temporarily drop from £6.4m to £5m, while clubs will also only be allowed one player exempt from the cap, as opposed to at the current allocation for two players.

A move north could also make sense for Watson, given that his older brother Marcus is already based at the Coventry Building Society Arena. The sale is also a tempting prospect given that Alex Sanderson’s side have already snapped up England stars George Ford and Jonny Hill, but the recent signing of Exeter winger Tom O’Flaherty could end any interest for Watson.

Bath winger Anthony Watson continues to be linked with a move after nine years at the Rec


David Rogers/Getty Images)

Which Premiership club would suit Watson best if he leaves Bath? Let us know in the “Comments” section.

Leicester might just be the most tantalizing prospect, especially as Steve Borthwick’s men are currently 12 points clear at the top of the Premiership. A 22-17 win over the Chiefs at Sandy Park on Sunday guaranteed the club a place in the play-offs with four games remaining.

Chris Ashton has scored twice on this visit to equal Tom Varndell as joint Premiership try scorer of all time (92). The 35-year-old former England regular moved to Welford Road in February on a short-term deal but Borthwick could be tempted to extend that deal if current form continues.

Ford is set to leave for the sale and will be replaced by 2019 Rugby World Cup winner, South African star Handre Pollard, Leicester’s only planned summer signing so far. Watson is currently recovering from a long-term knee injury but could make another blockbuster acquisition should he head out of Bath.

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Charles P. Patton