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England centre signs for Rugby League side #CodeHopper

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

We’re used to hearing about ‘Code-Hoppers’ in modern rugby but the trend usually is from League to Union. Israel Folau & Jason Robinson could be considered a couple of the best converts over the years.

Former England and current Northampton Saints centre Luther Burrell is bucking the trend and will join Super League side Warrington Wolves at the end of the current season.

Speaking on the move he told the club website;

“I’m buzzing to get involved with Rugby League and the Super League…. I’m not here to make up the numbers, I’m coming over and I mean business.”

The 31-year-old signed for Northampton in 2012 with over 150 club appearances to date including a starting place in the Aviva Premiership Final against Leicester Tigers in his first year followed by the European Challenge Cup and the Aviva Premiership trophy season of 2013/14. He previously played for Leeds Carnegie, 2009, and Sale Sharks, 2011.

He toured Argentina in 2013 and New Zealand for a Test series in 2014 with England and was also a key part of the 2014 and 2015 Six Nation squads, scoring on debut, and the summer tour of Australia in 2016.

Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick said:

“Opportunities like this don’t come along that often, to sign a player of Luther’s quality and playing CV is fantastic for the club and for Super League. Having played most of his junior rugby in League, Luther is aware of the required skill-set and the physical demands. His impressive stature, his bone-crunching hits and dynamic running are sure to make him a firm favourite with our supporters.”

Burrell added:

“My background is predominantly in Rugby League as I grew up in the north, in Huddersfield, surrounded by the sport and playing it at school. It’s never really left my blood; I guess my aim was to always try my hand at it one day and I’m buzzing to get involved with Rugby League and the Super League. I’m excited about the challenge ahead as it’s fresh for me. I’ve had some great times in Rugby Union, and I’ve had some adverse times, so for me to have this opportunity to play Rugby League and see how far I can get with a great team is exciting.

“The Warrington club is run amazingly well. Pricey (Steve Price) was unbelievable when I met him; it was exciting from the first meeting. I know a couple of the boys too. I know Josh Charnley from his time in Union and I’ve been spoken to him; his message was about how great the club is and from the outside you can see it has aspirations. I’ve watched Rugby League throughout my Union career so to join a club like Warrington, who were finalists last year and have a fantastic squad this season, is exciting as it is a club that is going places.

“I know I will need to earn the trust of my teammates first and foremost. I also hope to bring some physicality, that edge and the ability to break the line. I’ve had the opportunity to play for England in Union and to play on some of the biggest stages in finals. I’d like to think I can transfer the experience I have gained into Rugby League. I’m not here to make up the numbers, I’m coming over and I mean business.

“I want the fans to get to know me for themselves. I’m a northern boy and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone in the squad and getting in the mix with the Wire fans as I know it’s a big rugby town.”

Head coach Steve Price said:

“He’s a quality signing, being a former England International who has played at the highest level in Rugby Union. It’s exciting for Luther to be able to switch codes and to challenge himself in the Super League; in saying that he has still got a number of games left this season with Northampton, once that season is completed we look forward to getting him here and involved in our team.

“He’ll have to get up to speed with new calls, different team mates and a different game, so it will take a bit of time to transition, but he’s tall, athletic and can play in a number of positions which adds a lot of depth to our playing squad.

“He’s had an interest in the game of Rugby League from a young age, and is a great coup for our club.”

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6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.

O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. 

He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. 

O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation. 

On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions. 

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years. 

“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy. 

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.

“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. 

“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old. 

“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport. 

“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.

“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them. 

“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. 

“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey. 

“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. 

“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. 

“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then. 

“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. 

“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

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Premiership

Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled

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Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Warriors regret that tonight’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm has been cancelled.

COVID-19 cases, illness and injuries mean that, despite every attempt to fulfil the fixture, we are unable to name a team with sufficient front row forwards to comply with the competition regulations.

We currently have 36 players unavailable due to injury, illness or COVID-19, leaving us with only 18 fully fit players, of whom just three are prop forwards.

When the side to face Gloucester was announced on Thursday we named the only four fit props in the club at that stage. The availability of Murray McCallum, who was named as replacement tighthead, was subject to him passing a fitness test on Friday morning. Unfortunately, Murray failed that fitness test.

Gloucester and Premiership Rugby have now been notified that we no longer have sufficient fit and available front row forwards to allow tonight’s match to proceed safely.

We apologise to Gloucester, supporters of both clubs and BT Sport for the inconvenience this will inevitably cause but exceptional circumstances have conspired against us.

An independent Panel will now be convened to decide the points allocation and that decision will be communicated in due course but Premiership Rugby can confirm the match will not be replayed.

• The playing regulations for Gallagher Premiership matches state that:

In the interests of safety each team playing in the Premiership must have at least six fit and able players in the squad who can play at hooker, tighthead prop and loosehead prop who are suitably trained and experienced to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement in any front row position is required (whether due to injury or consequent to a player(s) being temporarily suspended or ordered off) the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums.
In the event that a club is unable to field those six players, the match shall be cancelled.

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Scotland international heading to Bristol

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol Bears have agreed terms to bring Scottish international Magnus Bradbury to Ashton Gate Stadium.

The 26-year-old back rower joins Ellis Genge and AJ MacGinty as the Bears’ third international signing ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

With seventeen caps to his name, Bradbury has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby since graduating through the club’s Academy.

“Magnus is a physical, athletic back rower with outstanding work rate and all the attributes to thrive in our system,” said Director of Rugby Pat Lam.

“To be a centurion at Edinburgh at such a young age shows his consistency and attitude and we’ve seen from his performances on the international stage that he can compete at the very highest level.

“Magnus brings further quality and physicality to our back row as we continue our recruitment for the 2022/23 campaign.”

Bradbury made his full Scotland debut in the 2016 November Test victory over Argentina at BT Murrayfield and has featured in all three of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures in 2022.

He added: “It’s an exciting opportunity to come to Bristol and play in the Gallagher Premiership. This is a massive club with great ambitions and a world class coaching team – I’m looking forward to the challenge that awaits.

“I’d like to pay tribute to Edinburgh Rugby and my teammates, the fans and staff at the club. It’s been an incredible journey and I am grateful for the support I have received over many years.”

Source – Bristol Bears Rugby

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