Cockerill: Rhys is a very good player
Leicester Tigers have joined the fight to lure Rhys Priestland away from the Scarlets, boss Richard Cockerill has confirmed.
Rugby director Cockerill admitted Leicester have made contact with Priestland's agents, but he conceded it will be a big ask to secure the Wales fly-half's services for next season.
Leicester captain Toby Flood has been heavily linked with a move to Heineken Cup champions Toulon, should Jonny Wilkinson retire this summer.
The Tigers have been widely touted as targeting Gloucester's England outside-half Freddie Burns as Flood's potential successor at Welford Road.
But Cockerill's revelation suggests that will not be cut and dried, especially with Burns continuing to weigh up the offer of a new Gloucester deal.
Premiership clubs are not allowed to approach stars from English rivals until there are six months remaining on existing contracts.
That means Leicester cannot officially make contact with Burns until January 1, but there is no such restriction on Wales-based stars.
"Yes, I have spoken to (Priestland's) representatives," Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.
"I am sure there are lots of clubs who would like him - and there are rumours of Gloucester - but it's just how it fits in.
"Priestland and Flood are of a similar age and have similar experience.
"Preistland has not got as many caps as Flood but he is a very good player and there are not many fly-halves on the market.
"Burns has clearly not signed for Gloucester yet. We are allowed to speak to their representatives, just not their players.
"We have made our request but Gloucester have all the power at the minute because they are the only ones able to negotiate."
While Flood is stalling on a new Tigers deal, Cockerill said he cannot afford for the former Newcastle Falcon to delay his call much longer.
Cockerill said: "Every player has the right to look around in January. If there are two or three players of equal quality, usually the first to the line wins the race.
"Toby needs to make his mind up with regards to what he wants to do.
"Come January 1, if Floody has not come to an agreement with us, we have to look around."