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Leicester Tigers are delighted to announce the signing of England international Jonny May

Leicester Tigers are delighted to announce the signing of England international Jonny May

Leicester Tigers are delighted to announce the signing of England international Jonny May from Gloucester Rugby for the start of the 2017/18 season.

His move to Tigers will see second-rower Ed Slater move in the opposite direction to join the Kingsholm club.

Tigers have also confirmed the signing of Tonga back-rower Valentino Mapapalangi, subject to visa, and USA international prop Chris Baumann.

May has established himself as a key member of a successful England squad and was named by head coach Eddie Jones in his training group for a pre-season camp last weekend.

A natural finisher, May has scored nine tries in 27 games for his country. In club colours, May has 62 tries in 138 games, including 41 in 91 Premiership Rugby appearances and five in the European Champions Cup.

May played in both Tests of England’s tour to Argentina this summer, scoring in the opening win in San Juan. He also played his part in England’s 2017 Six Nations triumph with appearances in wins against France, Wales and Italy, and scored a memorable try against the All Blacks, his first for his country, at Twickenham in 2014.

The 27-year-old’s signing is a huge statement of intent by the Tigers and backing for head coach Matt O’Connor. May will add to a talented and exciting group of backs at Welford Road that already includes England internationals George Ford, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi, Australia centre Matt Toomua, Tonga international Telusa Veainu and last season’s Players’ Player of the Year Adam Thompstone.

Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor said: “We are absolutely delighted to add to the quality of our backs with the signing of Jonny May.

“He is a proven international, has played a lot of rugby at Premiership and Test level, and will add a lot of experience to the squad.

“He is an out-and-out finisher with an outstanding try-scoring record and I think he is a fantastic addition to the group.”

Slater, 29, made 96 starting appearances and 40 from the bench for Tigers after making his debut in September 2010, scoring 11 tries and was a part of the squad that won the Aviva Premiership in 2012/13.

O’Connor said: “Ed has been a fantastic servant to the club. He arrived as a young man and worked incredibly hard to put himself in the frame for England and to become club captain. We wish him all the best.”

At 6ft 4in tall and weighing 17st 9lb, the 24-year-old Mapapalangi is a physical presence in the back row and has gained experience in New Zealand with Auckland, Waikato, Chiefs and Manawatu.

An exciting talent in Tongan rugby, he earned his first international selection during 2016 and started the Test against Wales this summer.

The 24-year-old Mapapalangi will link up with the Tigers squad in the coming days, subject to visa.

O’Connor, who worked with the Tonga squad during 2016, said: “Valentino is a very talented young player with a lot of potential to grow and develop with us.

“He is a physical player, a strong ball-carrier and can provide us with a useful option in the forward pack.”

Baumann, who has 20 international appearances, earned his first USA cap against Tonga in the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup and made three appearances in the Rugby World Cup that year, scoring his first Test try against Samoa.

He adds to a group of props at Tigers that includes internationals Dan Cole, Ellis Genge, Michele Rizzo, Logovi’i Mulipola and Pat Cilliers.

O’Connor said: “We have a very strong group of front rows at the club and we’re delighted to be able to add another international prop to that group.

“Chris is highly-regarded and will provide even more competition in an already competitive position.

“He has been highly recommended to us and I am sure he will develop even further with us in our environment.”

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