Leicester Tigers are on the verge of completing the signing of Handre Pollard, South Africa’s World Cup-winning fly-half, as the high-profile replacement for George Ford.
The Premiership club were on Wednesday said to be closing in on the deal with Pollard, whose contract with Montpellier expires at the end of the season.
Pollard is understood to have visited Welford Road recently and is thought to have opted to join Steve Borthwick’s side despite interest from Japan, the Sharks and Bath. However sources close to the club and player indicated on Wednesday night that the deal was not yet done.
The former Blue Bulls fly-half first caused a stir among Leicester supporters by beginning to follow Tigers’ official account on Instagram in November.
The signature of the 27-year-old, who played a major role in the Springboks’ World Cup triumph and the Test series victory over the British and Irish Lions, would represent a major coup for Borthwick following Ford’s decision to join Sale Sharks next season.
Telegraph Sport understands Leicester also considered Alex Lozowski of Saracens and Leinster fly-half Ross Byrne as possible recruits. The addition of Pollard however would represent a major statement of intent from Tigers that would surely enhance their hopes of silverware.
Pollard would be unavailable for Premiership and European fixtures that clash with The Rugby Championship and the November Test window, but Borthwick already has experience of juggling those considerations.
“We’re always looking to improve the squad,” Borthwick said on Tuesday
Pollard’s time at Montpellier has been blighted by the long-term knee injury he suffered against Racing 92 in September 2020. Ironically, he did return to help the Top 14 outfit oust Leicester in the final of the European Challenge Cup last May at Twickenham.
A move to Leicester would see him link up with fellow South Africans Jasper Wiese and Marco van Staden, a former Bulls teammate of Pollard and reunite with Aled Walters, Leicester’s head of physical performance, who was in charge of the Springboks’ conditioning during their successful World Cup campaign in 2019,
Pollard, reportedly paid £1m per year by Montpellier, would be eligible to be Leicester’s marquee player so his salary would not come under the salary cap.