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Premiership

Saracens Set to Sign Springboks Out-Half

Saracens have agreed a deal to sign a Springbok fly-half ahead of the new season

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Saracens have agreed to sign Stormer and Springboks No 10 Damien Willemse as a World Cup cover player if he fails to break into Rassie Erasmus’ 31-man squad.

The out-half, who can also play centre, winger and full-back is currently playing in the Currie Cup but has been given the opportunity to play for Saracens according to Western Province coach John Dobson.

“If he doesn’t go to the World Cup, Damian could have an opportunity to go to Saracens on a short-term loan. If that does come about it will be a good thing for him as he can learn a lot through a short stint in the UK. Saracens, as you know, have a very good kicking game. If he goes there he will learn a lot about the game management that is expected of fly-half and he will come back better equipped to do well for us in Super Rugby. Our WP captain Chris van Zyl played for Saracens last year, enjoyed it and learnt a lot from the experience and was then back to take part in our pre-season,” he said.

As well as gaining experience Willemse could get some vital game time and be match-fit should an injury occur to someone in the 31-man squad and he would therefore be available to slot in.

Having come back from a knee injury Willemse is preparing for Western Province’s final Currie Cup game this weekend against the Cheetahs. Dobson is sure that Willemse could cut it at the reigning European and Premiership champions, but nothing is confirmed that he will head to England.

“Damian is a special kid off the field as well as on it and is a deep thinker on the game so I don’t think he’s going to be too badly knocked if he isn’t in the World Cup squad, but he does want to make a point to the national selectors. In his mind, he is still playing for a chance to be in the World Cup squad. Damian showed us last week when he came on against Griquas what a good attacking fly-half he is and we are expecting a lot from him against the Cheetahs. He is really motivated to do well for us and hopefully push our season out by another few weeks, but if he is not in the World Cup squad when it is announced on Monday he will then give some thought to Saracens,” he added.

The Springboks’ World Cup squad is set to be announced on Monday and it seems unlikely Willemse will be involved which would open the door for him to cover for the likes of England’s Owen Farrell while they go to Japan.

Premiership

Exeter Sign Former Scotland Scrum-Half

Exeter Chiefs have confirmed the signing of a former Scotland international, with the move being his sixth in two years

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Former Scotland scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne has signed for Premiership side Exeter Chiefs the club have confirmed.

The 12-time capped Scot has put pen to paper on a two-year-deal starting next season and will be a replacement for departing Wallaby Nic White. 

Hidalgo-Clyne is looking forward to linking up with his new teammates and believes that Rob Baxter has created a brilliant environment for the team to thrive in.

“Like a lot of people, I’ve watched how the Chiefs have done and how successful the club have become over the last few years. They are one of the great teams, not just in England, but across Europe, and it will be great to be part of their set-up. Even looking in from the outside, you can see Rob has created a fantastic environment for the players. They play a great brand of rugby, everyone appears to enjoy themselves and they are a team who clearly want to win things,” he said. 

The move comes as the No 9’s sixth in a two year period, having lined-out for Edinburgh, Scarlets, Harlequins, Racing 92 and most recently Lyon as he secured a series of short-term deals. 

Having featured for the Scots during the 2015 Rugby World Cup as well he is delighted that there will be some fellow countrymen in his new club and is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. 

“Obviously, they have a quality squad already assembled there and with guys like Jonny (Gray) coming in as well, it’s only going to get better. I’ve played a lot with Jonny, not only as a youngster, but also with him and Stuart (Hogg) at international level, so it will be good to have a few friendly faces on arrival. When you look at Exeter as an opponent, they are one of the toughest teams out there. They have strengths all over the pitch and they are a team who like to keep hold of the ball and play for long periods. The way they attack, their defence, their physicality, they have some many areas of their game that are so strong. They rarely have off days! Alongside all of that, the support they get down at Sandy Park is incredible. I remember it was not only pretty noisy, but it was probably one of the windiest days ever for me on a rugby pitch. It’s a great place to go and play, though, and as I said at the outset, I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead,” he added. 

The Chiefs currently sit top of the Premiership standings and have progressed to the Champions Cup quarter-finals in what has been a good season to date. 

However, Hidalgo-Clyne will be hoping that he can add to their ranks come next season and who knows maybe stay longer at Sandy Park then he has done at recent club grounds.

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Premiership

London Irish Star Nearing Full Fitness

One of London Irish’s star signings from last summer is nearing full fitness according to reports

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London Irish and former Leinster star Sean O’Brien is said to be nearing full fitness according to rugby outlet RugbyPass.

The former Irish international moved to the Premiership side last summer as one of a number of eye-watering newcomers, but has yet to feature for the club due to a hip injury that required surgery before he had even officially lined-up with the team. 

There was a fear that after a number of high-profile injuries in recent seasons that this time the 33-year-old wouldn’t bounce back and would be forced to retire. 

However, after missing the Rugby World Cup in Japan with Ireland and the start of the new season with London Irish he now appears set for a return to action in the near future according to head coach Les Kiss. 

“Sean (O’Brien) is coming along and has done some full-on contact work and hopefully over the next month we should get some clarity about the timeline. He is getting closer,” he said to RugbyPass. 

O’Brien has a wealth of experience under his belt winning several league titles during his time with Leinster, as well as four European Champions Cups and a Challenge Cup medal to add to his international honours. 

Irish could do with his power and presence on the pitch as they look to climb up the Premiership table over the remainder of the season, with the club currently sitting in 10th above only Leicester Tigers and the already relegated Saracens side.

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Premiership

Young Eying Up New Job

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young could already have his next job lined up according to reports

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Wasps director of rugby Dai Young could be in line for a return to the Ospreys according to RugbyPass.

Young was relieved of his duties as the Premiership side’s director of rugby earlier in the week with Lee Blackett taking up the role on an interim basis the club confirmed. 

“Director of rugby Dai Young will be stepping back from first-team duties for an interim period. Lee Blackett will step up to interim head coach. Further announcements will be made in due course,” a statement read on Tuesday. 

However, it now appears as though the 51-year-old could make his absence permanent with a shock move to take over as Ospreys head coach. 

The PRO14 outfit have struggled so far this season and have already got rid of one manager in Allen Clarke, who was replaced at the end of 2019, with Mike Ruddock coming in on an interim basis. 

It is unknown how long his contract runs for, but if Young became available and was interested it would seem likely that the former Osprey’s player would be a prime candidate to take control on a full-term basis. 

There are other reports from Wales Online claiming that the Welsh side are checking out Springboks attack coach Swys de Bruin as well. 

Although it would appear as though Young’s experience in bringing clubs to the top would be exactly what Ospreys need and after nine years at the Ricoh Arena hw might like a new challenge.

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