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Premiership

Leicester Tigers squad for Premiership Rugby 7s

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers include new signing Johnny McPhillips and eight of the club’s academy graduates in the squad for the Premiership Rugby Sevens this weekend.

Former Ulster fly-half McPhillips is the first of the summer arrivals to have the chance to run out in Tigers colours as the season’s traditional curtain-raiser is hosted at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton over Friday and Saturday.

McPhillips, 22, is joined by seven members of the Tigers development squad – all part of the academy’s Under-18 League championship-winning sides in recent seasons – and the former academy scrum-half Will Findlay.

Henri Lavin and Taylor Gough are entering their second season in the development squad, while Ollie Ashworth, Jonny Law, Joe Browning, Leo Gilliland and Freddie Steward all step up in 2019/20.

They are joined by guests Toby Smith, Will Aflleck and Levi Roper in a Tigers squad coached by Matt Smith and David Mélé this weekend.

Smith, who retired as a player last season and is now head coach at the Tigers academy, said: “The Premiership Sevens is an opportunity to give guys exposure to playing at a Premiership stadium, in front of a decent crowd and the TV cameras – all of that outside ‘noise’ and distraction they are not used to – and that is another step in terms of their own development as players.

“It’s a first run-out of the year, a first appearance in our colours for Johnny McPhillips, the first time for guys like Joe Browning to be involved in senior rugby and a chance for all of them to make the most of a new opportunity.”

All 12 Premiership clubs are involved over two days of competition at Franklin’s Gardens, with action from 5.30pm on Friday. Tigers face Wasps at 7.23pm and Bath Rugby (8.53pm) on the opening evening and all 12 teams return for the knockout stages and finals on Saturday, starting at 2.30pm.

Tigers will wear the club’s new alternate fluoro-red kit throughout the weekend.

Tickets are available from the Saints ticket office, price £20 adults/£8 juniors for the whole weekend or £12/£5 for a single day.

Leicester Tigers
1 Henri Lavin
2 Taylor Gough
3 Ollie Ashworth
4 Jonny Law
5 Will Findlay
6 Joe Browning
7 Leo Gilliland
8 Freddie Steward
9 Johnny McPhillips (c)
10 Toby Smith
11 Will Affleck
12 Levi Roper

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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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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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