Bristol Bears head coach Pat Lam has announced the departure of 11 senior players come the end of the season.
Among the players leaving are Wallabies veteran George Smith and Samoan international Jack Lam.
Jack Tovey, Bristol’s longest serving player with 192 appearances since 2009 is also heading for the exit door along with Nick Fenton-Walls, Tusi Pisi, Nick Haining, Joe Latta, Sione Faletau, Jordan Lay, Reiss Cullen and Ehize Ehizode.
Head coach Lam acknowledged that the players are leaving for new opportunities and was grateful for their work within the team.
“It’s the nature of professional sport that, at the end of the season, we see some players move on to new opportunities. As always, we are grateful to these men who have put their bodies on their line for the club and committed to the Bristol Bears vision,” he said.
He also confirmed that the fans would have the chance to say goodbye to the players after their match against Sale Sharks.
“We wish them and their families well for the next chapter and, like we do each season, will recognise the guys with a post-match presentation on the pitch after the Sale Sharks game and give our supporters an opportunity to thank them for their efforts,” he added.
Along with the 11 out-going players Bristol will also be saying goodbye to team manager Gareth Delve and head of S&C Paul Bunce come the end of the current campaign.
Bristol are well clear of the relegation-zone in the Premiership and are looking to end the season on a high by securing Champions Cup rugby for next year by finishing in the top six of the English top tier.
London Irish Star Nearing Full Fitness
One of London Irish’s star signings from last summer is nearing full fitness according to reports
The former Irish international moved to the Premiership side last summer as one of a number of eye-watering newcomers, but has yet to feature for the club due to a hip injury that required surgery before he had even officially lined-up with the team.
There was a fear that after a number of high-profile injuries in recent seasons that this time the 33-year-old wouldn’t bounce back and would be forced to retire.
However, after missing the Rugby World Cup in Japan with Ireland and the start of the new season with London Irish he now appears set for a return to action in the near future according to head coach Les Kiss.
“Sean (O’Brien) is coming along and has done some full-on contact work and hopefully over the next month we should get some clarity about the timeline. He is getting closer,” he said to RugbyPass.
O’Brien has a wealth of experience under his belt winning several league titles during his time with Leinster, as well as four European Champions Cups and a Challenge Cup medal to add to his international honours.
Irish could do with his power and presence on the pitch as they look to climb up the Premiership table over the remainder of the season, with the club currently sitting in 10th above only Leicester Tigers and the already relegated Saracens side.
Young Eying Up New Job
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young could already have his next job lined up according to reports
Young was relieved of his duties as the Premiership side’s director of rugby earlier in the week with Lee Blackett taking up the role on an interim basis the club confirmed.
“Director of rugby Dai Young will be stepping back from first-team duties for an interim period. Lee Blackett will step up to interim head coach. Further announcements will be made in due course,” a statement read on Tuesday.
However, it now appears as though the 51-year-old could make his absence permanent with a shock move to take over as Ospreys head coach.
The PRO14 outfit have struggled so far this season and have already got rid of one manager in Allen Clarke, who was replaced at the end of 2019, with Mike Ruddock coming in on an interim basis.
It is unknown how long his contract runs for, but if Young became available and was interested it would seem likely that the former Osprey’s player would be a prime candidate to take control on a full-term basis.
Although it would appear as though Young’s experience in bringing clubs to the top would be exactly what Ospreys need and after nine years at the Ricoh Arena hw might like a new challenge.
Quins Land Signature of Springboks Prop
Harlequins have confirmed they have signed a Springbok ace ahead of next season
The 25-year-old tighthead will remain with the Stormers until the end of the current Super Rugby campaign and link-up with his new team-mates in the summer.
Speaking on the move the 13-cap South African international admitted he is delighted to join a club with a reputation such as Harlequins.
“I’m really stoked to be heading to England to play for Quins. If you ask any South African player, they all know Harlequins, its reputation is huge. It’s a big opportunity for me; Harlequins play an exciting brand of rugby with awesome coaches. Gussy has told me to bring my own flavour to Harlequins and I’m really keen to get involved. When I spoke to him in Cape Town, he was really passionate about the future, the guy is full of energy and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who talks about rugby and a club with that amount of passion and excitement. I’ve played with André (Esterhuizen) and I know the likes of Stephan (Lewies), so I’m really excited to already have a few friends over there to help me settle in and I’m really looking forward to making new friends at the club too,” he said.
Louw brings a wealth of experience to the squad especially at scrum-time, where he has become a dominant force in the southern hemisphere in recent seasons.
As well as playing for the Stormers he has played in Europe before with a short-term switch to French Top 14 giants Toulon and will be a huge boost to the current crop of Quins stars.
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