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Premiership

Three Signings in One Morning for Leicester

Leicester Tigers have confirmed the signing of three new players, in what has been a busy morning for the club

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Leicester Tigers have announced the arrival of three new players ahead of their 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership campaign.

Back rowers Hanro Leibenberg and Jordan Coghlan join from Super Rugby outfit the Bulls and Championship side Nottingham respectively. While EW Viljoen comes into the side from the Stormers.

23-year-old Leibenberg is able to play across the back row and has plenty of experience having represented the Bulls in the Currie Cup and also captaining the South African U20’s at the World Junior Championships.

The South African is delighted to be joining Leicester and is looking forward to life in the Premiership.

“The opportunity to play in the Premiership is one I am very excited about and to do it at a club of Leicester’s tradition and standing is a huge honour. The Tigers fans are well known around the world as some of the best in rugby and I am looking forward to playing at Welford Road in front of them, alongside my new team-mates,” he said.

Head coach Geordan Murphy noted the experience and leadership skills Leibenberg possesses despite his age.

“Hanro is an aggressive ball-carrier and a physical player around the field, in the best traditions of South African back-row players. He has gained a good level of experience already for a 23-year-old and has good leadership qualities too. His best years in the game should still be ahead of him and we look forward to welcoming him for next season,” he said.

Meanwhile fellow back rower Coghlan, who has spent time with both Leinster and Munster previously paid tribute to the club’s history when discussing his decision to move.

“This is Leicester Tigers – the most successful club in English history. For me, to be part of that is a huge honour. Geordan Murphy is working hard to build something special here and get Tigers back to the top of the Premiership, where they belong, and I’m happy to be a part of that. I’m just looking forward to getting stuck in,” he said.

Murphy is glad to have another experienced player on board and is looking forward to working with the 26-year-old Irishman.

“Jordan is a physical, athletic and experienced player who we are looking forward to welcoming into the club. His junior career speaks for itself and achievements in Ireland as a young man has served him well in his career. He is an exciting talent and he has earned his spot with impressive showings for Nottingham over recent seasons,” he said.

Viljoen, who has played Currie Cup rugby for the Western Province as well as also representing the Springboks at the U20’s Junior World Championships believes that there is nowhere better for him than Welford Road.

“The chance to represent a club like Leicester Tigers is one I could not pass up and I’m very excited about the challenge of playing in Premiership rugby. I want to play my role and make a contribution to getting Tigers back to where a club of their history and tradition belongs, which I believe Geordan Murphy is building towards. It’s an exciting chance to experience northern-hemisphere rugby and I can’t think of a better place to be able to do that than Welford Road,” he said.

Murphy is also excited to have the 24-year-old in his ranks and thinks that he will provide more depth in the squad.

“EW is a versatile, skilful and exciting player to have as part of our group. He has an impressive resumé for a young man and, at only 24, it’s encouraging to know he still has plenty of improvement left in him. He adds a lot to our outside-back stocks and provides valuable depth in the squad,” he said.

Leicester are looking to bounce-back next season following a poor showing in the Premiership last year which saw the, narrowly avoid relegation and with signings like these they can only improve.

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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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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