By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter believes he has picked up three of the brightest young talents in the English game following the confirmation of Wasps slipping into administration.
Having already secured the services of hooker Dan Frost last month, Baxter has swooped to seal the signings of Academy youngsters Alfie Bell, Greg Fisilau and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.
Lock Bell, who hails from Nuneaton, is an England Under-20s international and stands at a whopping 6ft 8in tall and tips the scales at 118kg.
Back-row forward Fisilau was born in Plymouth and is the son of former Albion and Tonga centre, Keni Fisilau. Like Bell, he too is an England Under-20s international, standing at 6ft 2in tall and 109kg.
Feyi-Waboso, meanwhile, was born in Cardiff and came through Cardiff’s Academy before he transferred to Aston University in Birmingham and was then picked up by Wasps. A lightning-quick back, who can play in the centre or on the wing, he has previously featured for Wales at Under-18 level, as well as being part of their Under-20s squad.
The talented trio, all aged 19, have all been added to the Chiefs squad this week and Baxter is looking forward to them playing an exciting part in the future of the Devon club.
“Once things started happening as it did at Worcester and Wasps, the players we actually started looking at first were the young guys for obvious reasons,” said Baxter. “I’ve made it clear a few times now, I want to find guys who have not won anything and I want to find that next group whose sole focus is winning.
“I want a group that enjoy being on a journey that takes them to winning Premiership titles, winning European Cups or becoming international players. I don’t mind saying it, Wasps have a very talented group of players there – they have done fantastically well bringing them through to where they are now – and for me, it was the most exciting thing about looking at the players becoming available.
“Manny has played in their Premiership Cup games on the wing and done very well. He’s a bit like Tom O’Flaherty in that he was playing in Wales, but then transferred to Aston University and got picked up by Wasps. Already he looks to me as though he’s going very well, he looks good in training and that he could easily be thrown into a match-day 23 at any stage.
“With both Greg and Alfie, they are both within the England Under-20s set-up. When I spoke to Greg, I said tell me about your rugby story and he said he spent a lot of time as a youngster down in Plymouth where his dad was playing at the time. In a different scenario, he could easily have come through our academy system had he spent longer down here.
“He’s another who has played in the Premiership Cup, he’s had time playing in the Championship, and he looks to be on that pathway, similar to Sam Simmonds when he was in the Championship, that really excites me. With Sam moving on at the end of the season, he may well take on that mantel of being that explosive, ball-carrying, all-action No.8 for the future.
“And Alfie, he’s a big guy, another who has had that bit of experience playing in the Championship, so we’re very excited at what all of them will bring. What I like already is that all of them are willing to work and want to improve. That’s a great trait to have and I’m seeing it in abundance from all three of them.”
Tom Wood to captain Barbarians for showdown with Saints
Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTSSaturday 26 November 2022cinch Stadium at Franklin’s GardensKick-off: 3pm15 Jonah Holmes14 Zach Kibirige13 Luther Burrell12 Owen Williams11 Marland Yarde10 Danny Cipriani9 Gareth Simpson1 Murray McCallum2 Hika Elliot3 Brok Harris4 Graham Kitchener5 Elliott Stooke6 Ben Morris7 Olly Robinson8 Tom Wood (c)Replacements:16 Tevita Ikanivere17 Ben Harris18 Elliot Millar-Mills19 Lloyd Ashley20 Will Boyde21 Francois Hougaard22 Mali Hingano23 Perry Humphreys
Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.
The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.
Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.
Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.
Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.
Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.
And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.
A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.
BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Saturday 26 November 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
15 Jonah Holmes
14 Zach Kibirige
13 Luther Burrell
12 Owen Williams
11 Marland Yarde
10 Danny Cipriani
9 Gareth Simpson
1 Murray McCallum
2 Hika Elliot
3 Brok Harris
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Elliott Stooke
6 Ben Morris
7 Olly Robinson
8 Tom Wood (c)
16 Tevita Ikanivere
17 Ben Harris
18 Elliot Millar-Mills
19 Lloyd Ashley
20 Will Boyde
21 Francois Hougaard
22 Mali Hingano
23 Perry Humphreys
TEAM NEWS | Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears
Sam James makes his 200th Sharks appearance, Cobus Wiese and Akker van der Merwe return from injury and Rouban Birch and Kieran Wilkinson are rewarded for their cup heroics with places on the replacements bench for the Saturday lunchtime Premiership clash with Bristol Bears (KO 1pm – live on BT Sport).
Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez also return to the Sharks line-up after featuring for South Africa A, while Jono Ross captains the side for the round 11 showdown with Pat Lam’s men.
Springbok hooker Van der Merwe returns to the number two shirt after six weeks out with an ankle injury picked up against London Irish in October, and he takes his place in the front row between the experienced pair of Ross Harrison and Nick Schonert.
Wiese also returns from ankle lay-off to partner Josh Beaumont in the second row, while the Du Preez twins line-up alongside skipper Ross in the back row.
Gus Warr lines up again at scrum-half alongside fly-half Rob du Preez, and in the centres, Sam Hill starts with the ever-present Sam James, who plays his 200th game for his boyhood club.
Tom Roebuck and Byron McGuigan start on the wings, with full-back Joe Carpenter making up a pacy back three.
Academy products Tommy Taylor and fit-again Simon McIntyre provide front-row cover on the bench, along with Joe Jones, who will be playing his 50th Sharks game if he takes the field.
Sam Dugdale and Friday night’s Premiership Rugby Cup player of the match Birch cover the rest of the forwards.
Joe Simpson, Wilkinson and Arron Reed are the backs replacements.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Byron McGuigan, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. JL du Preez, 7. Jono Ross ©, 8. Daniel du Preez
16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Rouban Birch, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Arron Reed.
Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby
Falcons forward heads to France
Thursday 24 November 2022
Lock-forward George Merrick has left Newcastle Falcons to join a French club with immediate effect.
The 30-year-old has made 13 appearances since joining from Worcester Warriors in the summer of 2021, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of the club.
Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder said: “George has been offered an exciting playing opportunity over in France and we wish him all the best for his move.
“He has been a positive presence around our squad during his time here, and on behalf of the entire coaching team I’d like to thank him for his contribution.”
Merrick said: “I’ve loved my time in Newcastle with a great bunch of boys, and I’m looking forward now to this new challenge.”
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