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Premiership

Launchbury to Sale?

Is the Wasps exodus set to continue?

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Written by Photo by Eshlin Vedan
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Strong rumours had been circulating that Joe Launchbury appeared to be nearing a switch from Wasps to Sale. The lock was reportedly unhappy following the departures of Nathan Hughes and Willie Le Roux. Hughes has joined Bristol Bears while the South African Le Roux is set to leave the club at the end of the season.

The future of Elliot Daily is also currently the subject of speculation. Launchbury currently earns in the region of £270,000 per year. RugbyPass have suggested that Sale were willing to almost double the player’s wages and offer him a contract worth £500,000 per annum.

Wasps and Lauchbury however issued a strong statement via the club website and Twitter.

“Wasps are aware of recent rumours linking Club Captain Joe Launchbury with a move away from the Club.”

“These rumours are completely unfounded, and Wasps can confirm Launchbury will be at the Club next season.”

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “Joe is Club Captain and has been a key part of Wasps for a long time. He is an asset to the squad.

“Joe is clearly a quality player who most clubs would want in their ranks, but he is contracted to Wasps and committed to the Club and the journey we are on.

Launchbury was quoted saying

“Wasps are obviously a Club that have been great to me over the years and are extremely close to my heart. I’m fully committed to the Club and going nowhere.”

Launchbury is a product of Wasps academy and has since made 135 appearances for them. He has been captaining the side since 2016 and also boasts 54 England caps.

This clear statement of denial from Wasps perhaps strengthens the rumours surrounding Elliot Daly move to Saracens. These rumours have been around for much longer , gather a lot of momentum and Wasps have remained silent.

In brighter news for Wasps, scrum half Ben Vellacott is set to leave Gloucester and join them at the end of the season. The 23-year-old who is a potential candidate to England’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad as agreed to a move as reported by Gloucestershire Live.

This will be déjà vu for Gloucester fans. They also saw exciting scrum-half Dan Robson leave them in order to join Wasps four years ago.

At the time, Robson left in order to get more regular game-time. Vellacott is presently in a similar situation with club captain Willi Heinz ahead in the pecking order.

Velacott has so far managed 12 tries from 45 appearances in Cherry and Whites colours. However, he has been mainly used as an impact player and not started as many games as he would have liked to.

Premiership

Saracens Set to Land South African Starlet

Saracens have had their struggles of late but it appears as though despite everything they remain active in the transfer market and are preparing to sign one of South Africa’s brightest stars

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Saracens are in advanced talks with young South African forward Cobus Wiese from the Stormers it has been revealed and his signing could benefit England too.

With the South African side struggling with cash at the moment, losing a host of their star players in recent times, the English Premiership giants are preparing to swoop in for another, with it believed that the utility forward to sign a five-year contract. 

At 22, the forward has been a regular for both the Stormers and Western Province over the past two years and if he does put pen to paper on the deal it would see him become available for England during his career. 

The London-based side have had a rough few days being handed a £5.3 million fine and being deducted 35 points in the Premiership for a breach of salary cap rules, but while that is being appealed, the club seem likely to continue their transfer business as usual. 

While for Saracens it would be a massive coup to sign Wiese, for the Stormers it would be a huge loss as they have already lost World Cup winners Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende, as well as other players such as Dan Kriel, Michael Kumbirai, Corne Fourie and EW Viljoen among others due to the current crisis at the franchise. 

The Stormers have been struggling through their pre-season so far as a host of their players are on loan abroad and they await the returns of some of their World Cup stars. 

They should be boosted by the returns of captain Siya Kolisi, Steven Kitshoff, Herschel Jantjies, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe and recent World Player of the Year winner Pieter-Steph du Toit, who are all set to come back to the franchise come mid-December. 

However, the loss of another player and a rising star could not only be a blow for the club but for the Springboks in the future.

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Champions Cup

Saracens Handed Another Huge Set-Back

Saracens have had a tough few days and things have got worse yet again as one of their star youngsters has been ruled out for the remainder of the season

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Saracens’ terrible week has just gone from bad to worse with the confirmation that prop Ralph Adams-Hale has been ruled out for the rest of the season through injury.

The 22-year-old picked up an ankle injury on Saturday during Sarries first win over Gloucester at Kingsholm in four years and was stretchered off the pitch. 

It was confirmed that he underwent surgery on Sunday and will go under the knife once more in the coming days to fix the injury, which will now leave him sidelined for the remainder of the season. 

Adams-Hale had started the season brightly with two starts and two sub appearances in the team’s first four games to follow on from his Premiership final appearance last season, but this is a cruel blow for him individually as he joins star full-back Liam Williams on the injury list.

Meanwhile, it is yet another set-back for the club as a whole, who were hit with a £5.3 million fine as well as a 35-point deduction following breach of salary cap regulations. They are fighting the decision, but if they fail in their appeal they will sink to the bottom of the Premiership table. 

Currently on 13 points they would drop to -22, a whopping 26-points off current basement side Leicester who have only picked up four points from their first four games. 

Head coach Mark McCall has confirmed that if it comes to it Saracens will sacrifice their Champions Cup crown to focus on avoiding relegation from the English top tier. 

“We have got a plan for the worst-case scenario which will affect our strategy around the Champions Cup. Our job at the moment if the points deduction remains and the appeal is not successful is to try to stay up and that is what we will try and do,” he said last week. 

Meanwhile, as well as those blows the reigning English and European champions could face punishment from the European body following their absence from last week’s Champions Cup launch day, with another fine most likely on the way. 

Saracens will hope things will get better soon with the return of some key international stars, and will look to kick-start their European campaign on a high when they take on French giants Racing 92 this weekend.

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Premiership

Former All Black Set for Exiles Debut

London Irish have named their team for Sunday’s match against Leicester with three star signings poised for their Premiership debuts for the side

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London Irish have announced their team to take on Leicester at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday with three of their key summer signings set for debuts.

Former All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo has been announced on the right-wing following his sensational move to the Exiles during the summer and will be making his first appearance for them. 

Along with Naholo hooker Saia Fainga’a is in the line-up for the first time as he prepares to make his debut for the English outfit. 

Meanwhile, Australian international Nick Phipps could also make his debut for Irish if he comes off the bench at some point in the game. 

Following their promotion to the top tier of English rugby the Exiles splashed the cash on a number of high-profile players with the likes of Curtis Rona, Ruan Botha and Paddy Jackson already playing a part in the opening stages of the season. 

While they still have players such as Adam Coleman, Sekope Kepu and Sean O’Brien to come into the side as they try to cement a place in the Premiership for next season. 

Irish are currently sitting in 10th position only one place above the Tigers, who claimed their first win of the season last time out and the Exiles director of rugby Declan Kidney is expecting a tough game this weekend. 

“Leicester Tigers are coming off the back of a good home win against Gloucester last weekend, so we know the challenges that they present to us. We are improving as each match comes, so we will be looking to do the same this weekend,” he said.

With one win from their opening three games the Exiles will be hoping that their new signings will make an instant impact as they try to move away from the relegation spot.

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