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Cruden Not Thinking About All Blacks

With Aaron Cruden set for his return to Super Rugby action in the coming weeks many have questioned whether he may return to the All Blacks fold, but the player himself is not concerned with all the talk

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(Photo credit JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Chiefs fly-half Aaron Cruden is set to make his much anticipated return to rugby in his homeland in the coming weeks as the 2020 Super Rugby begins and it has got fans tongues wagging.

The 31-year-old, who is returning to New Zealand following a two-year stint in France with Montpellier, has excited fans with his return and they are now wondering if he may get another chance to play for the All Blacks. 

Before his departure to France Cruden picked up 50 caps for his country, but has failed to add to that due to his move abroad. However, his return goes hand in hand with change in the All Blacks set-up as Ian Foster begins his reign as head coach. 

Entering a new era in All Blacks history could mean that a slot could open up for Cruden to put his hand up for selection if he can hit the ground running for the Chiefs, with Beauden Barrett’s position in the team still up for debate with many preferring him as a full-back. 

Meanwhile, Richie Mo’unga is a natural No 10, but some appear to have question marks over his place in the team. 

However, despite all the talk as to the possibility of his return to the national side Cruden insists he isn’t thinking about anything other than the task at hand with the Chiefs. 

“I just want to contribute to each environment I’m in and haven’t thought too much about the All Blacks. I’ve been removed from that environment for a few seasons and there have been a lot of changes in that scene as well,” he said while speaking to the media. 

A stumbling block in fans hope for his return to the national fold is that he is set to leave the Chiefs after just one season and head to Japan where he will play for the Kobelco Steelers, meaning he may not be a long-term option and therefore not come into Foster’s thoughts. 

Whatever happens on the national scene Cruden’s return to the franchise where he won two Super Rugby titles in his first stint sees him link up with new head coach Warren Gatland and he was full of praise for the former Wales head coach. 

“His pedigree speaks for itself, you can see what he’s been able to do with the Welsh national side. He’s obviously a passionate Waikato/Chiefs man and having him back in the region will do wonders for this team. He’s brought his own style and structure to training and, talking to a lot of the boys they are really energised. It’s a lot more player-driven with coaches there to provide guidance and a bit of structure, giving the players the allowance and energy to bring things to life which is awesome,” he added. 

Although unlikely the talk of Cruden’s possible comeback in an All Blacks jersey will not go away any time soon and if he can impress this season who knows what might happen. 

For now he has his sights on the Chiefs and with their season opener against the Blues fast approaching Cruden will hope to help him and Gatland get off to the perfect start on their return to New Zealand.

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Borthwick Confirms New Job Already

Steve Borthwick confirmed his departure from the England set-up yesterday and less than 24 hours his new role has been announced

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers have confirmed that England assistant coach Steve Borthwick will take over as head coach once his current commitments to the national side conclude.

It is a move that has been rumoured for some time and with Borthwick announcing his departure from the England set-up yesterday after over four years with them, many expected that he would be heading in the Tigers direction. 

However, the speed at which the confirmation has come about is the only surprise, but the former England international is delighted to be given the chance to manage the Tigers after learning so much from working with Eddie Jones since 2012. 

“The last four-and-a-half years working with the England team has been an incredible journey. I have worked with some brilliant players and staff. In particular, I would like to thank Eddie Jones. To have worked with one of the greatest head coaches in the world for so long has been an unbelievable experience. I’m delighted to be joining Leicester Tigers as head coach. The Tigers have such a long and successful history and are one of the greatest rugby clubs in the game. Welford Road, with the special atmosphere created by the club’s incredible supporters roaring their team forward, is a very special place to be. We must now work to build upon that great history and create our future to get this club to the top of European rugby. It is a brilliant challenge and I am excited to start working with the players and everybody associated with the team. Geordan provides a link with the club’s greatest teams and we will be working together to ensure that there are many successful days ahead for this club, and for our supporters to enjoy,” he said. 

He will be welcomed into the club with open arms after being part of the Japanese national set-up that stunned the world at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, before switching to England where he has won two Six Nations titles and reached a World Cup final. 

His arrival sees current head coach Geordan Murphy changes his role at the club, taking up the position of director of rugby and club chairman Peter Tom believes that the two former stars can build back a Tigers team that has struggled lately. 

“The appointment of Steve Borthwick as head coach and Geordan Murphy in the role of director of rugby provides an exciting combination of leadership, expertise and experience to drive the club forward in its desire to challenge for major honours again. The club has enjoyed many of its greatest successes with a blend of the Tigers DNA alongside fresh, innovative ideas from outside, both among the players and the coaching staff, and we look forward to Geordan and Steve leading that in their respective new roles,” he said. 

Both Borthwick and Murphy will be hoping to bring the Premiership side back to the top level of the game come next season, but before then they have their separate tasks, with Borthwick guiding England through the upcoming Six Nations, while Murphy attempts to take the Tigers further up the Premiership table.

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England Coach Set for Departure

England have confirmed that one of their coaches will leave at the end of the season and they already have his replacement sorted

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England have confirmed that assistant coach Steve Borthwick will leave his role come the end of the season.

The 57-cap former England international has been involved with head coach Eddie Jones since 2012, having previously held the role of Japan’s forwards coach. 

However, in 2016 the two left for England, during which time they have picked up two Six Nations crowns and made it to the Rugby World Cup final last year, but Borthwick admits following the tournament in Japan he made the decision to call time on his current role. 

“I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team since 2016, culminating in a Rugby World Cup Final last year. Having come back from Japan, spent time with my family and reflected on my time with England, I have decided to step away from the role towards the end of the season,” he said. 

As well as his time with England, Borthwick was also part of the coaching set-up during the British and Irish Lions drew with New Zealand in 2017. 

Speaking on his departure head coach Eddie Jones praised his assistant’s impact and confirmed he will be missed around the camp. 

“I have had a great seven years with Steve. He is a loyal, hard-working and analytical coach but I understand he needs now to get out on his own following this campaign. He’s made that decision and we are really pleased for him. He created a great lineout for England and really developed the young guys. If you look at someone like Maro Itoje, he’s become a world-class lock under Steve. He has also turned our maul into a weapon for us and he’s done brilliant work co-ordinating the England programme. We will miss him greatly,” he said. 

The Rugby Football Union have already announced that Jason Ryle will take on the position in November and he is delighted to have the opportunity. 

 “I am really excited about the opportunity to work in a world-class programme with the England national team and someone like Eddie with his experience is very appealing for me. It will be a real honour to work with some of the best coaches and so many quality England player,” he said. 

Ryle is currently the assistant coach at Australian rugby league side Melbourne Storm, where he has been since 2016, but this will be a huge step up for him. 

Meanwhile, it is expected that Borthwick will head to Leicester when he does leave the England team, in what would be a massive boost for the Premiership outfit. 

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Wales to Face Japan in the Summer

Wales have confirmed that they will play Japan in the summer along with their clashes with the All Blacks

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Wales have announced that they will take on Japan in the far east this summer with the venue to be confirmed in due course.

It will be Wales’ first time back to Japan since their Rugby World Cup campaign last year, where they went on to finish fourth following a semi-final loss to eventual winners South Africa and another loss to the All Blacks in the third-place play-off. 

The match will take place on June 27th, ahead of the team’s trip to New Zealand where they will play two tests against the mighty All Blacks and head coach Wayne Pivac is looking forward to the recent World Cup hosts. 

“Going back to Japan for Wales will be a really big fixture on the back of a really successful Rugby World Cup for Japan as hosts both on and off the field. The squad and Welsh Rugby Union made a huge impression on the country in the lead up to and during the World Cup and attracted a lot of local support so it will be great to take the squad back to Japan for the first summer test,” he said. 

Wales’ neighbours England are also set for a return to Japan in the summer, with Eddie Jones’ side set for a two-test series against the Brave Blossoms. 

It is a huge boost for the Japanese team, who will now get to face some top-tier nations following their incredible World Cup displays and will now have the chance to continue their progression at the top-level of the game. 

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