Wallaby centre shuts World Cup door
TRANSFER NEWS: Australia centre Matt Toomua's new long-term deal with Leicester Tigers had officially ruled him out of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The 27-year-old playmaker joined the Premiership giants on a three-year deal in 2016, a move which allowed for the possibility he could return to Australian club rugby in 2019.
But the contract extension until 2020 means the 31-times capped Toomua will remain unavailable for international duty as Australia - who play England at Twickenham on Saturday - do not select overseas-based players for Tests unless they have already won at least 60 caps.
Toomua moved to the East Midlands during the opening weeks of the 2016-17 season but suffered a knee injury in the European Champions Cup victory over Racing at Welford Road just two games into his Tigers career.
He worked his way back to full fitness for the start of the new season and has proved a key player in the opening stages of the season.
The 27-year-old Wallaby, said: "I’m very excited about committing to the club for a few more years.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Despite having an injury-interrupted first year, I have loved being a part of the club and am very excited about our ambitions in the near future,'
Toomua, the husband of Australia women's cricket star Ellyse Perry, who scored an Ashes double century against England in Sydney last week, added: "Leicester Tigers have a rich history and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to add to it.”
Leicester coach Matt O'Connor was delighted to have retained the services of a player he first worked with at Australia's Brumbies Super Rugby franchise.
"Matt is a world-class operator in attack and defence,” said O’Connor. "He brings out the best in the players around him, he’s a great decision-maker and communicator in the backline and everyone appreciates the quality of his work there."
News of Toomua's contract extension came just days after Leicester announced they had signed Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau who, having made 80 Test appearances, remains available for Australia selection.
Aside form Toomua, British and Irish Lions prop Dan Cole, Telusa Veainu, Mike Williams and Greg Bateman all put pen to paper on new deals with Leicester Tigers.
A Tigers academy graduate, Cole made his senior debut for his hometown club in October 2007 and has made 185 appearances in the front row as well as playing in 75 Tests for England and gaining selection on two tours with the British & Irish Lions.
Cole said: "I am very happy to sign a new contract with Leicester. The quality and depth of the playing squad along with the direction of Matt O'Connor made re-signing an easy decision to make,"
Speaking about Cole's new deal, coach O'Connor said: "Coley is an outstanding player and a great example of a player who has come through the ranks at the club, earning his place in the senior squad and progressing to become the first choice for club and country,"
"He is among a core of senior professionals who have come through together here and are now in key leadership roles within the squad."
Veainu arrived at Welford Road after the 2015 World Cup and O'Connor said of the 26-year-old: "Telusa has been in outstanding form and is a key player for us.
"He's a popular guy in the squad, he works very hard and he is still improving as a player.
"We have some top-class players in our backline and Telusa is central to that."