Heineken Cup
Cockerill envious of rivals' buying power
ESPN Staff
October 10, 2012
Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill clasps the silverware, Sky Studios, London, October 1, 2012
Will Tigers boss Richard Cockerill get his hands on the Heineken Cup silverware at the end of the season? © Getty Images
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Leicester boss Richard Cockerill believes English rugby's leading clubs are 'fighting a losing battle' against the superior financial might of their European rivals.

The Tigers will be hoping to kick start their latest Heineken Cup campaign against four-time winners Toulouse on Sunday but Cockerill insists they are already playing catch-up to the French giants and their fellow Top 14 clubs.

"The English clubs just don't have the same buying power," Cockerill told The Times. "Where have the marquee signings been in England in the last couple of years? I can name quite a few in France. I can't go and buy Matt Giteau or Bakkies Botha [both recently signed by Toulon]. Toulouse have got Luke McAlister, Lionel Beauxis and Jean-Marc Doussain as their three No.10s. They need a loose-head, so they go and buy Gurthro Steenkamp [South Africa prop]. That's what we're competing with."

Aviva Premiership clubs are restricted by a salary cap of £4.26m per season but as of last year have the ability to make one 'marquee' signing outside of this limit. However, they have still struggled to compete with clubs across the Channel and in Japan where former Tigers winger Alesana Tuilagi recently moved on a deal worth a reported £400,000 a year.

"Five or six years ago, players were half the price and the salary cap wasn't a lot different," Cockerill added. "We're fighting a losing battle to a degree. But we feel that if we've got everybody fit, we can compete with anybody. We go into Europe trying to win the tournament. How realistic that will be is a completely different matter."

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