Bristol lead race for out-of-favour Leicester No.10 Tom Hardwick

BRISTOL are among a clutch of Premiership clubs interested in luring Leicester Tigers fly-half Tom Hardwick away from Welford Road next summer.

The Rugby School-educated son of former England international Rob penned a new deal to stay at the Tigers at the start of the year but has since been ousted from his favoured position.

Former director of rugby Geordan Murphy said he saw Hardwick’s future at inside centre after Joaquin Diaz Bonilla joined George Ford, Zack Henry and Johnny McPhillips at the club.

But Guy Porter started the opening game of the season win over Gloucester wearing the number 12 shirt while Matt Scott was down to start at London Irish today.

And Steve Borthwick’s ludicrous and unhelpful policy of not discussing players’ fitness and availability makes it impossible to tell if the 21-year-old is injured, out of favour, or self-isolating.

The Rugby Paper understands that Bristol have put the England U20 international on their wanted list for next season with Max Malins due to return to Saracens.

Pat Lam took Malins, 23, on loan from the former European and Premiership champions in July while they play in the Championship next season.

We understand that Gloucester, who have been looking for someone to back up Danny Cipriani, are taking a keen interest in developments as well.

Grenoble, who are in the lower half of the ProD2 table, want to take Hardwick to the Stade des Alpes as they look to build forpromotion back into the Top 14 next season.

NEIL FISSLER

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