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- English rugby union footballer
Ellis Genge rejected the prospect of earning more money at Leicester to join his home-town club Bristol next season, according to Bears director of rugby Pat Lam.
Genge dropped a bombshell on Steve Borthwick’s resurgent Gallagher Premiership leaders, the team he has led with distinction this season, by declining to activate an extra year on his contract.
Instead, the 26-year-old is returning to the club where he launched his professional career in 2013 to unite with fellow England prop Kyle Sinckler in a formidable front row.
Let the bromance continue ❤️ 🐻
Bristol boys 😍 pic.twitter.com/TI3bgeNPvh
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 16, 2021
And Lam revealed that the hard running loosehead is taking a pay cut because the pull of returning home trumped the money on offer at Welford Road.
“If he had stayed at Leicester it would have been a lot more financially beneficial for him,” Lam said.
“He has taken a huge pay cut to come back, but money was not his motivating reason. His motivation was about coming home and inspiring the next generation.
“We had a discussion. I thought it was only going to be an hour and it was three hours. We just talked about life and when I walked out, it was dark.
3.2 – Since his @premrugby debut, Ellis Genge has averaged 3.2 defenders beaten per 80 minutes, no other front rower has averaged more than 2.5 defenders beaten per 80 minutes in that period. Cub. https://t.co/mURDVtlyBl
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) December 16, 2021
“What struck was his love for this place and I was honest with him, I don’t have what he’s being paid at Leicester, but he was still determined to come over.”
Genge has risen to become one of three England vice-captains after winning the first of his 31 caps in 2016, despite hailing from the tough Knowle West council estate in south Bristol.
He runs ‘Baby Rhino’, a company that offers coaching clinics and mentoring to young aspiring players.
“I’ve been in Bristol for four years and I know most of the areas around here. He talked about his life and his desire to come home,” Lam said.
“He felt like he wanted to put on the jersey and make a difference for the people that he knows. He comes home lots.
“I didn’t realise that the kids who can’t afford to do the (Baby Rhino) summer camps and holiday programmes, he funds them and comes in and does it for free because he believes everyone deserves an opportunity like he’s had.
“It’s really inspirational and you can feel his passion for this place, which is awesome. It’s exactly what I love about him.
“He’s a world-class player and you could put any number on his back, so he will fit our game perfectly and add real value.”