Saracens close in on Anthony Watson despite late Leicester offer


Saracens have moved closer to securing a deal to bring Anthony Watson to StoneX Stadium for next season.

The Men In Black now hold pole position in the race to snap up the England wing’s services following the autumn’s World Cup in France, Standard Sport understands.

Watson’s current club Leicester have made a renewed play to keep the 29-year-old in the East Midlands beyond the summer, but the chances of the Tigers retaining the 55-cap speedster remain slim.

French Top 14 outfit Castres are Watson’s other frontline suitors, though a move across The Channel would most likely curtail his England opportunities beyond the World Cup.

Watson has already been candid about wanting to be closer to family in Surrey, and that could tip the balance in Saracens’ favour.

Watson has struck back to full fitness and top form after an injury-hit time at Leicester, with calf, hamstring and quad injuries all hindering his progress with the Tigers – and that after tearing knee ligaments in 2021.

The former London Irish and Bath wing will hold an important role in England’s World Cup bid in France this autumn, and wants to extend his international career beyond the global tournament.

The British Lions flier should need to stay on home soil for that to happen however, so Watson has joined the ranks of players squeezed by the Premiership’s reducing salary cap.

The English top-flight’s basic cap will drop to £5million next season, though that can push well beyond £6million with all the varied homegrown player credits.

Leicester have signed Ollie Hassell-Collins from London Irish and Josh Bassett from Harlequins for next term, and have struck a deal to keep veteran full-back Mike Brown at Welford Road beyond the summer too.

Former Harlequins and England star Brown has impressed so much on a short-term deal that Leicester have kept him on board for next season too.

Brown will turn 38 in September but maintained razor-sharp fitness when without a club for the first half of this campaign, having been released by Newcastle after one season with the Falcons.

Saracens have signed London Irish full-back Tom Parton to bolster their squad for next term, but will lose England wing Max Malins to Bristol.

Watson’s potential arrival would hand another major boost to Saracens’ already impressive squad potency and depth.