Leicester Tigers back Matt Toomua praised the standard of the Heineken Champions Cup, after announcing that he would be returning to Australia in a bid to regain his international place in time for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The 28-year-old fly-half or centre has agreed terms with Rugby Australia and the Melbourne Rebels to play in the 2018 Rugby Championship but will return to Leicester during the Championship’s rest periods before going home to Australia for good at the end of the 2018/19 season.

In that time he will hope to add to his Champions Cup appearances for the Tigers, having been impressed by the competition in his two seasons at Welford Road.

He told the Leicester Tigers website: “I didn’t really know what to expect when I first arrived in Leicester, but the level of rugby in not only the Premiership but also Europe has been great.

“I feel very fortunate to have experienced the rugby culture up here. I still have plenty of work to do in the Tigers jersey, but I know I’ll be returning to Australia a better player.

“Welford Road is a great place to play rugby. It is easily the best club rugby stadium I have played in and to be able to call it my home ground has been something I’ve been very proud of, especially considering the history the club has.

“There is still plenty of time left before I finish my time here and I am committed to adding to that history.”

Leicester, two-time winners of the European Cup, have been drawn in Pool 4 with Racing 92, Scarlets and Ulster Rugby – and will also have Kyle Eastmond in their ranks, after the dual-code England international centre joined the Tigers from Wasps.

The 29-year-old made 28 European appearances for Bath Rugby and Wasps between 2012 and 2018, including 17 in the top-tier competition.

Leicester Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor told the club website: “We have some very skilful and exciting players in our backline, and Kyle will add to that quality.

“He has an impressive skillset and we’re delighted we’ve been able to bring him into the squad here ahead of the new season.”