Leicester Tigers confirm signing of World Cup winner Pollard as Ford replacement

Premiership giants Leicester Tigers have wasted little time in recruiting a successor to George Ford after announcing South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard as his replacement.

Ford, 28, stunned the Premiership leaders in November after agreeing a deal to join Sale Sharks at the end of this season, begging the question as to how Leicester would fill the No. 10 void.

Not only have the Tigers filled the upcoming vacancy, but one could argue they've upgraded by recruiting Montpellier playmaker Pollard, who was pivotal to South Africa's 2019 Rugby World Cup victory.

As fate would have it, Pollard started opposite Ford in the Japan final two years ago when he kicked 22 points for the Springboks in a dominant 32-12 win against Eddie Jones' side.

The former Blue Bulls and NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes star has scored more in a Test fixture on only one other occasion, when he bagged 31 points in a 46-13 thrashing of Argentina earlier in 2019.

Leicester announced on Tuesday afternoon that a deal had been agreed to sign Pollard ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, with the club currently on course to challenge for this season's league crown.

“I am excited to join Leicester Tigers, to be a part of this great group of players at a special club and challenge myself, test my limits and be the very best I can be for the team," Pollard said after signing was announced.

“The club is going brilliantly at the moment and I know there is an expectation to continue that, to keep getting better because getting to the top is hard but staying there is even harder.

“There are bigger deals on the table, but I’ve made this decision to work with Steve [Borthwick] and to be a part of an unreal, great club at Leicester Tigers which has such a great history.”

Pollard joined Montpellier following the 2019 Rugby World Cup, a move that reportedly made him the sport's best-paid player on more than £1million per year.

It's believed the player has accepted a pay cut and ignored more lucrative offers for a return to Japan in order to link up with Leicester.

Head coach Steve Borthwick was also highly complimentary of his latest recruit and called Pollard "a world-class fly-half who brings with him a wealth of experience from Super Rugby, Top14 and international rugby."

Do you think Leicester Tigers have secured a fly-half upgrade in Handre Pollard? Let us know in the comments section.

“He is a World Cup winner who has been highly sought-after from clubs all over the globe. But, most pleasingly, he sees Leicester Tigers as the club for him.

“What has impressed me most in our dealings with him has been his desire to be a part of what we are building at this club but also his desire to develop, learn and grow as a player and person.

“This is a very exciting signing for the club and one I hope Leicester Tigers fans are excited about.”

Pollard, 27, boasts 60 caps for South Africa and has been almost omnipresent as the country's first-choice fly-half since earning his senior debut in 2014.

His most recent Test outing happened to come against England when the Boks suffered a 27-26 defeat at Twickenham in November thanks to Marcus Smith's late penalty decider.

The mood at Welford Road is sure to have turned once more following the news, with any regret at Ford's impending departure suddenly replaced by the excitement at landing one of the world's best fly-halves.

Montpellier are currently third in the Top 14 and fighting to win their maiden top-flight league crown, while Leicester hope Ford will end his second stint at the club with an 11th Premiership title in tow.

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