Leicester Tigers set to sign London Irish pair
Leicester Tigers are set to raid the ranks of London Irish after agreeing terms with fly-half Dan Bowden and winger Adam Thompstone.
Bowden is the most high-profile of the two and has been brought in to fill the gap left by Billy Twelvetrees, who is joining Gloucester at the end of the season, and the likely departure of Jeremy Staunton.
Bowden, who is expected to fight for the fly-half shirt with Toby Flood and teenager George Ford, played in 31 of the Exiles' 32 games last season.
His consistency at outside-centre and fly-half earned him the players' Player of the Year award in his first season at the club.
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The 25-year-old Kiwi has remained an almost ever-present in the Irish side this season, playing most of his rugby at fly-half and kicking goals.
Before arriving at the Madejski Stadium, Auckland-born Bowden made his Super 15 debut for the Otago Highlanders before joining the Canterbury Crusaders and playing outside All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter.
Bowden joined London Irish at the end of the 2010 Super 15 season and is renowned as an attacking play-maker with a solid boot.
He has played for New Zealand at Schools under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels. His girlfriend is captain of the New Zealand women's football team.
Thompstone, 24, is a six-foot winger who weighs in at nearly 16 stones. He joined the Irish Academy in 2007 and has blossomed since.
Known for an explosive turn of pace, he made a name for himself during the 2008-09 season, scoring nine tries before a dislocated and broken ankle the following year kept him out of the game for 15 months. He has returned to his best form this season with six tries in 15 starts.
Thompstone will add strength to a Tigers back three which has already been boosted by Miles Benjamin's decision to join from Worcester.
Alesana Tuilagi and Horacio Agulla are both likely to leave at the end of the season, and I understand Tigers are still hoping to land another winger before finishing their backs recruitment.