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Exeter still in market for new recruits

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By Mark Stevens
5/8/22

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has not ruled out adding to his squad ahead of the new 2022/23 season, which kicks-off next month with the visit of Leicester Tigers to Sandy Park.

Having added Tongan international Solomone Kata to his ranks earlier this week, Baxter hinted that there could yet be more incomings with potential spaces to fill in the forwards.

“We still have a couple of slots that we could fill,” said Baxter. “With Will Witty moving on, that’s opened up a space there, and there’s a little bit of room potentially around the front-row that I’m still looking at.

“That said, we are starting to look where we need to be. So far we’ve got a good block of training into the guys that are here. It would have been nice to have got through this period with a few less operations and a few more guys on the field able to train regularly, but it’s very rare that Premiership clubs get to do that now.

“Overall, though, we’re looking good and the guys look like they are bonding together nicely, which is really important. Initially, we didn’t think we would get Solomone over here as early as we have, so it’s great that he is here and settling in because that means we can get him on the pitch a lot earlier as well.”

With just a month to the opening fixture on Saturday, September 10, Baxter admits he is liking what he is seeing from his players in the countdown to the big kick-off.

“The guys are working extremely hard,” added Baxter. “We have reconfigured the gym over the summer, so that everything can run a bit more smoothly. To be fair, we can’t question how hard they have worked and the challenges we have set them.

“We’ve got a leadership group who are really driving the way and we have got a bit of freshness about us. Weirdly – and I know this sounds a bit strange – finishing seventh last season has for some of the guys taken a bit of pressure off them. For others, it will have added a bit of pressure, probably me more than anyone else, but actually we’ve tried not to look at it like that.

“Instead, we’ve tried to look at it as a bit of a fresh start and it’s now our jobs to kind of rebuild that team that challenges at the top again. It’s not like there is an expectation that Week One it has to be perfect. We’ve changed a few things – new defence coach, we’re slightly changing our attack – and we’re just going to start to work our way through a lot of those things over the next three or four weeks running into those first few games.”

With reigning champions Leicester Tigers first up for the Chiefs, Baxter and his squad can now focus their minds on what should be a mouth-watering opening day fixture.

“I’ll be honest, I think we would have been this excited whoever we were facing first up,” continued Baxter. “But that one is as good as any to start with. Playing Leicester gives us a real focus and it gives the crowd a real opportunity to come in and pack out Sandy Park and see what this group of players are going to be about this season. It just gives us an opportunity to lay down a marker.”  

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby


Premiership

Tom Wood to captain Barbarians for showdown with Saints

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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
Kick-off: 3pm

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)

Replacements:
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

Content & Images from – Northampton Saints Rugby


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Premiership

TEAM NEWS | Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears

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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

Replacements:

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


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Premiership

Falcons forward heads to France

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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.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby


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