Tigers boss Cockerill has sympathy for Saints over salary cap

OFFERING SUPPORT - Leicester boss Richard Cockerill (right) chats with Saints forward coach Dorian West (Picture: Linda Dawson)

OFFERING SUPPORT - Leicester boss Richard Cockerill (right) chats with Saints forward coach Dorian West (Picture: Linda Dawson)

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Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill says he sympathises with Saints over the big-money offers made to star men Soane Tonga’uiha and Brian Mujati.

The props look set to exit Franklin’s Gardens next summer after receiving lucrative bids from French side Racing Metro.

Metro have an estimated wage budget of £17.5m, compared to Saints’ rigid salary cap of little more than £4m, plus a marquee player who is not included in that expenditure.

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder has admitted he can’t compete with the spending power of sides from across the Channel.

And Mallinder has found an unlikely ally in Tigers director of rugby Cockerill, who feels Saints are falling foul of the system.

“The salary cap has bitten Tigers over a number of years and, if the reports are correct, Northampton are going to lose two of the props that they have brought in, developed and made world-class,” Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.

“As much as Northampton are huge rivals, I think it is wrong that they are not allowed to compete in the market place for their players.

“Tonga’uiha came from Bedford and they have made him into what he is.

“Now they cannot afford to keep him because of the salary cap. That is harsh.

“It’s a financial choice. Look at Alesana Tuilagi who has gone from us to Japan for a considerable amount of money.

“We didn’t even try to compete with that because he would have taken up 25 per cent of our cap.

“For someone like Geoff Parling, who is also out of contract, he has come from Newcastle and now he is starting for England.

“He will get offers bigger than ours, so it will be down to the good will of the player to say he likes playing for you, that he is really happy here trying to win something and that he will take 25 per cent less than he could get somewhere else.”