Leicester Tigers close to Martin Castrogiovanni replacement

Martin Castrogiovanni

Chief executive Simon Cohen says Leicester Tigers are close to signing a replacement for Martin Castrogiovanni.

The Italy prop, 31, is reluctantly leaving after seven years as he is desperate to play more regularly.

"Martin is a humble man and simply wants to play more. I don't think it's anything more sinister than that," Cohen told BBC Radio Leicester.

"We are pretty far down the road with a replacement prop and hope to announce something in the near future."

Fans favourite Castrogiovanni, who only started seven Premiership games and one Heineken Cup match this season, has yet to find a new club after a proposed move to French side Toulon fell through.

He will be released from the final year of his contract at the end of the season and came on as a late replacement in the Premiership semi-final victory over Harlequins. at Welford Road on Saturday.

Castrogiovanni left the field in tears on his last appearance in front of the home fans, and has since told BBC Radio Leicester he did not want to move but felt he had no choice if he wanted to get more game time.

Cohen added: "He wants to play rugby. It's really difficult situation for Cockers [head coach Richard Cockerill].

"He has two world-class tight-heads [Castrogiovanni and Dan Cole] and he has to keep them both happy.

"He has tried to give them both game time but as the years have gone on Castro has started less. He is a great, great player and a great, great bloke and he thinks he can play more and I am sure that is right.

"He wanted a release and you have to respect somebody who gave so much to the club. You have to respect those wishes."

Cohen also confirmed a move to Toulon fell through and says it came as a shock to the Tigers that owner Mourad Boudjellal was quoted as saying that Leicester wanted too much money.

"Toulon, at one stage, wanted to negotiate a transfer fee with us," Cohen said. "We agreed a fee and I came back and nothing happened, so we waited for them to come up with the money they said they would pay.

"They never said they would pay a lesser amount or 'you are asking too much' and it was a complete surprise to us when they were quoted as saying that."

Castrogiovanni is almost certain to be among the replacements when Tigers take on Northampton in the Premiership final at Twickenham on Saturday, 25 May.

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