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Premiership

All Blacks centre signs for Northampton Saints

Tidy bit of business for the Premiership side as the Souther Hemisphere exodus continues.

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Northampton Saints can today announced that Kiwi centre Matt Proctor will join the Club from Super Rugby side Hurricanes.

The 26-year-old New Zealand international is director of rugby Chris Boyd’s first new signing for next season, with a raft of current Saints already penning deals to remain at Franklin’s Gardens.

“For a long time now, I have had the ambition of testing myself in the Northern Hemisphere and for so many reasons Northampton is a great fit for me.”

Matt Proctor

omfortable both on the wing and at fullback, Proctor has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Southern Hemisphere in recent seasons.

And after committing to make the switch across the world to the Gallagher Premiership, Proctor is already relishing the prospect of a new challenge on English soil with Northampton.

“I am excited to have signed for such a prestigious club in Northampton Saints,” said Proctor.

“For a long time now, I have had the ambition of testing myself in the Northern Hemisphere and for so many reasons Northampton is a great fit for me.

“Not only will I have the opportunity to be coached again by Chris Boyd – the person I have worked with the most as a professional player – but I will also have the honour of joining a Club that is steeped in tradition and boasts a rich history of success.

“The Club and I share the same goals in wanting to achieve as much success as possible on the pitch, while also contributing to the wider rugby community off the field; so overall I am thrilled to be heading to Franklin’s Gardens.”

After making his Super Rugby debut in 2013, Wellington-born Proctor was part of the Hurricanes side that – under Boyd – secured the title three years later.

He celebrated his 50th appearance for the franchise in 2018, while also being named captain for Wellington Lions’ Mitre 10 Cup campaign.

“Matt is exactly the calibre of player that we want to be bringing to Northampton.”

Chris Boyd

In the same season Proctor then made his All Blacks Test debut against Japan in November, with his representative career also including the Maori All Blacks, New Zealand Under-20s and New Zealand Schools.

Boyd said: “Matt is exactly the calibre of player that we want to be bringing to Northampton – he’s a world-class talent.

“I obviously know first-hand what he can do having worked with him back in New Zealand, and I am confident he can slot into our back-line next year alongside the quality players we already have at Saints.

“At 26, Matt is entering the peak years of his career and he had the desire for a new challenge on this side of the world. We feel that he can really fill his vast potential here in Northampton.”

Premiership

Saracens Set to Sign Springboks Out-Half

Saracens have agreed a deal to sign a Springbok fly-half ahead of the new season

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(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Saracens have agreed to sign Stormer and Springboks No 10 Damien Willemse as a World Cup cover player if he fails to break into Rassie Erasmus’ 31-man squad.

The out-half, who can also play centre, winger and full-back is currently playing in the Currie Cup but has been given the opportunity to play for Saracens according to Western Province coach John Dobson.

“If he doesn’t go to the World Cup, Damian could have an opportunity to go to Saracens on a short-term loan. If that does come about it will be a good thing for him as he can learn a lot through a short stint in the UK. Saracens, as you know, have a very good kicking game. If he goes there he will learn a lot about the game management that is expected of fly-half and he will come back better equipped to do well for us in Super Rugby. Our WP captain Chris van Zyl played for Saracens last year, enjoyed it and learnt a lot from the experience and was then back to take part in our pre-season,” he said.

As well as gaining experience Willemse could get some vital game time and be match-fit should an injury occur to someone in the 31-man squad and he would therefore be available to slot in.

Having come back from a knee injury Willemse is preparing for Western Province’s final Currie Cup game this weekend against the Cheetahs. Dobson is sure that Willemse could cut it at the reigning European and Premiership champions, but nothing is confirmed that he will head to England.

“Damian is a special kid off the field as well as on it and is a deep thinker on the game so I don’t think he’s going to be too badly knocked if he isn’t in the World Cup squad, but he does want to make a point to the national selectors. In his mind, he is still playing for a chance to be in the World Cup squad. Damian showed us last week when he came on against Griquas what a good attacking fly-half he is and we are expecting a lot from him against the Cheetahs. He is really motivated to do well for us and hopefully push our season out by another few weeks, but if he is not in the World Cup squad when it is announced on Monday he will then give some thought to Saracens,” he added.

The Springboks’ World Cup squad is set to be announced on Monday and it seems unlikely Willemse will be involved which would open the door for him to cover for the likes of England’s Owen Farrell while they go to Japan.

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Premiership

Bristol Bears announce All Black contract extension with quality Love Island video

Love Island Inspired

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Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Bristol Bears social media team need a pay rise.

They’ve given us some quality signing videos this year and other hilarious social media content and now they’ve just released this quality video announcing the contract extension of one of their key men. Check it out below.

He’s sticking around for #1MoreYear

Pat Lamb spoke about Afoa’s decision to stay another season,

“I’m absolutely delighted that John has committed to another season with the Bears. He is a genuinely world-class performer and a shining example to our younger players.”

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Premiership

London Irish Sign Tongan International Forward

London Irish’s impressive summer recruitment has continued as they have captured the signing of an experienced forward

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(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

London Irish have confirmed the signing of Tongan international forward Steve Mafi ahead of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season.

The versatile forward, who is comfortable in both the second-row and back-row, has had previous experience in England having lined-out for Leicester Tigers over 80 times over a four-year spell and is excited to return to the Premiership.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me to return to England and test myself in the Premiership. London Irish is entering an exciting period in its history and I am thrilled to have signed. Next season will be a great challenge for myself and for the club and I cannot wait to run out and play for my first game in the famous green shirt,” he said.

Since his time with the Tigers Mafi has gone on to play for Super Rugby franchise the Western Force and Castres, where he won the Top 14 in 2018.

The Exiles director of rugby Declan Kidney is delighted to have added such an experienced player to his squad.

“Steve is another experienced addition to our squad moving forward. We know how demanding and challenging the Gallagher Premiership is, so it is important that we assemble a squad to meet the demands. Steve has a wealth of experience and the ability to cover several positions in the second and back row. We look forward to welcoming him to the club,” he said.

The 29-cap Tongan will certainly add experience to the club who are preparing for life back in the Premiership following their promotion from the Championship last season.

London Irish have already spent big this summer adding the likes of Waisake Naholo, Paddy Jackson, Noel Reid, Sean O’Brien, Sekope Kepu, and Nick Phipps among others with Mafi now joining the list of in-comings.

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