Key duo Steve Mafi and Julian Salvi extend deals at Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers have received a huge festive boost with the news that flankers Julian Salvi and Steve Mafi have signed new deals at the club.
Both men are key members of the squad and are among the first names on the team-sheet each week.
That the back-row duo have committed their future to Leicester is great news for the club's coaching team, and a recognition of Tigers' ability to challenge for trophies.
Both men have shown they enjoy the environment at Leicester enough to remain at Welford Road, and Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill was naturally delighted to see them put pen to paper.
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"Steve Mafi and Julian Salvi have been integral to the success of the last couple of seasons," he said.
"Steve came here as a relatively unknown player and he has thrived in our environment to become a world-class player, and we believe he can get better and better.
"As for Julian, we knew how good he was when he was at Bath and he has thrived in this environment as well."
Australian Salvi and Tongan Mafi would have attracted some big offers in the market place had Tigers not tied up the deals six months before their contracts were due to end.
Genuine open-side flankers like Salvi, 27, are extremely rare in the Aviva Premiership, especially ones as skilful and durable as the former Brumbie, who has made 41 appearances in just 14 months.
Mafi, meanwhile, has been a revelation on the blind-side flank since arriving at the club on trial in September 2011.
It is likely that the 23-year-old could have commanded some huge sums of money from French and Japanese clubs if he wanted to shop around.
"It's great that we can keep them in the current market place," said Cockerill.
"They have both been sensible in their expectations from a financial point of view, and they want to be in this environment.
"Their decisions were based on rugby, on their love of the club and the fans, and everything about the club was more important than the financial reward, which is important because of the restrictions we have to work under."