LEICESTER CLOSE TO SIGNING BROOKES

Leicester are close to signing Kieron Brookes from Newcastle after they agreed a deal with the club. Brookes, 20, signed a one-year deal at Newcastle in May and is also attracting interest from Munster and Leinster.

But Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said the link to Brookes was just “speculation”.

“We are in process of doing all our signings. When we have signed them we will let you know,” he said.

CROFT COULD MISS SIX NATIONS

Tom Croft is set to miss the England’s Six Nations campaign after an injury for Leceister Tigers.The 25-year-old Leicester player has been sidelined since suffering the injury in the Test defeat by South Africa at Twickenham.

The club’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill says the injury will require another six to eight weeks to heal.

England open their Six Nations campaign against Wales on 4 February.

That match will almost certainly come too soon for him, though there remains a slim chance he could feature at some stage, with the last round of fixtures seeing England face Ireland on 19 March.

CROFT SIGNS NEW CONTRACT

Tom Croft has signed a new contract with the Leicester rugby team. The 25-year-old England and British & Irish Lions back-rower has made 87 appearances for the Tigers since his 2005 debut, scoring 17 tries.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Everyone here is delighted that Tom has signed a new contract.

“He came through our academy and is now a top-class player. He really wanted to stay and we really wanted him to stay.”

PARLING OUT OF THE SEASON

Leicester Tigers lock Geoff Parling is out for the season after damaging his knee ligaments. Parling returned to action after four months out with a neck injury in Friday’s win over Harlequins – his first appearance of the season.

But, just two minutes after coming on as a replacement, Parling caught his studs in the turf and twisted his knee.

“It’s a crying shame for us and for him,” Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill told BBC Radio Leicester.

“It’s horrendous for him first and foremost – and really bad news for us because we thought we were getting him back and he would really bolster our second row and forward options. It is a massive loss.

LEICESTER BEAT EXETER

Leicester Rugby Union continued their good start to the season by beating Exeter 37-27. After a Geordan Murphy touchdown gave the Tigers an early advantage, Exeter hit back with two tries from Phil Dollman to lead 20-10 at half-time.

Two Jeremy Staunton penalties put Leicester back in touch, before Mark Foster scored Exeter’s third try. Scores from Scott Hamilton, Dan Hipkiss and a penalty try gave Leicester the lead once again as the Chiefs faded.

Exeter were fired up in the first half as they refused to be intimidated by the Welford Road experience. Looking to follow on from where they left off last week against Gloucester, the Chiefs were rewarded with a third-minute penalty which fly-half Gareth Steenson duly knocked over.

LEICESTER REVEAL RECORD TURNOVERS

Leicester Tigers have revealed record turnovers of £18.5m. Tigers recorded a profit of £284,000 for the period ending 30 June 2010, compared to a loss of £989,000 in 2009.

And the increased turnover of £1.4m was partly down to the first phase of the redevelopment of Welford Road which saw the capacity increased to 24,000, and partly due to increased sales of Wales Rugby Hospitality Tickets.

That saw record crowds averaging more than 21,500 last season.

Executive chairman Peter Tom said: “We are delighted with our performance on and off the field, reflecting the continuing hard work and total commitment for which this club is well renowned.

“I would like to thank all our people for the part they have played in returning the club to profit and keeping the Tigers at the top of its game.

“We look forward to the next stage in the redevelopment of Welford Road and the rising attendances which we’re sure will follow. We have a very bright future ahead of us.”

INJURY FORCES LEICESTER SCRUM-HALF TO QUIT

Leicester Rugby Union and England scrum-half Harry Ellis has announced that he will retire from the game after failing to recover from several knee problems. The 28-year-old, who won 27 caps, required a reconstruction of his left knee in 2007 and sustained a second injury in the same area last season.

Now, having taken a medical advice, Ellis has decided he has no option but to quit playing rugby.

“The most difficult decision for any player to make is about when they have to stop playing,” said Ellis. “But, after taking medical advice, unfortunately I have to announce my retirement.

“I’ve loved every minute of my rugby career with Leicester, England and the British and Irish Lions.

“I would like to thank the club and medical staff for their help in my time at Leicester and thank all of my colleagues and the fans who have given me such great support.

“This is not the way I wanted to end my career because I have always taken great enjoyment from the game of rugby and I have some very special memories.

“But now I will have to consider other options for the future and take on a new challenge.”

Ellis was out of action for 10 months after rupturing cruciate ligaments in 2007 and made just 24 of his 173 Tigers appearances in the three years since.

A product of Leicester’s academy, Ellis was capped for the Lions on their tour of South Africa last year

He first played representative rugby for England at Under-16 level and made his est debut against South Africa in 2004.

Ellis’s final England appearance was in the 26-12 victory over Scotland at Twickenham in March last year.

Leicester Rugby Union head coach Richard Cockerill said: “It’s always a sad day when injury ends the career of any player, and Harry has been a valuable and popular member of the squad here for almost 10 years.

“We wish him well in whatever the future may hold for him and thank him for his service to the club.”

England manager Martin Johnson, who played alongside Ellis at Leicester in the latter stages of his own career, said: “I was sorry to hear the news about Harry having to retire from the game because of injury.

“Harry has been an excellent player who always gave everything for Leicester and England.

“From the first time he was involved it was obvious to everyone in the Tigers squad that he was a special talent and that he’d make a big impact for Leicester and England.”

Former lock Johnson, England’s 2003 World Cup-winning captain, added: “I am sure that if he’d been fit Harry would have continued to make a huge contribution to his club and country for many years to come.

“On behalf of the England squad I’d like to wish Harry all the best for the future.”

LEICESTER AIM FOR EUROPE

Jordan Crane says Leicester Tigers must build on Saturday’s Guinness Premiership triumph and mount a strong challenge in the Heineken Cup next season.

Tigers’ failure to qualify for the quarter-finals of Europe this season was the only real disappointment of a campaign which proved again that they are still the kings of English rugby.

While they have been in two recent finals, losing to Wasps and Leinster, they have not won the big one since the second of back-to-back crowns under Dean Richards in 2002.

Now Crane feels Tigers can address that, despite the loss of some quality players who are moving to other clubs.

“Lewis Moody is a big loss, Ben Kay is retiring, and Sam Vesty, Brett Deacon and Mefin Davies are leaving,” he said.

“They are good players, but we have to build. The character in this Leicester side is great and, if we don’t do the same next season, it will be a disappointing season.

LEICESTER CALL FOR SALARY CAP

Champions Leicester are leading a call to increase the controversial salary cap from the present £4million per season for Guinness Premiership teams.

The 12 clubs meet on Wednesday to debate proposals to raise the cap for the 2011-12 season.

A final decision will be made at a board meeting of Premier Rugby, the umbrella body, on May 18.

Leicester’s head of playing operations Simon Cohen said: ‘The Premiership has to decide where it wants to be.

‘Is it going to work to the lowest common denominator and be competitive? Or is it more important to compete in Europe and attract the world’s best players?