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Premiership

Tigers confirm 2 new signings.

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It’s been a busy few weeks at Leicester Tigers with the announcement of a new incoming head coach with Steve Borthwick followed by the news of 2 new signings.

It had been widely rumoured that Fiji superstar Nemani Nadolo would join the club. The club confirmed the signing this morning.

The outside-back, who is a proven try-scorer and accomplished goal-kicker, has registered 222 points in 29 Test appearances for Fiji since his international debut in 2010 and is capable of playing at wing or centre.

Nadolo, considered one of the game’s best finishers, is currently with Montpellier in France’s Top 14 after impressive showings during stints in both the southern and northern hemispheres.

Prior to the move to France, Nadolo had spells with the Crusaders in New Zealand, Green Rockets in Japan, Exeter Chiefs, Bourgoin and the NSW Waratahs in Australia.

He has registered more than 1,000 points in domestic and international rugby, including more than 150 professional tries.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy admitted the addition of Nadolo to the Leicester squad was one that players, coaches and supporters could all “get excited” about ahead of his arrival in the summer.

“It’s certainly one to get excited about, no matter who you are,” said Murphy.

“He’s a star of the international game and a player that crowds all over the world have been able to enjoy.

“Now, the Tigers faithful get that chance and the squad, as well as coaching staff, get the opportunity to work alongside and with Nemani from next season.”

Nadolo will follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Seru Rabeni, Vereniki Goneva, Seremaia Bai, Campese Ma’afu and World Rugby Hall of Famer Waisale Serevi in representing the Tigers.

Murphy, who played alongside all but Ma’afu for Tigers, said he believed Nadolo could leave a legacy like his fellow Fijians at Welford Road.

“We have been blessed with some incredible Fijians at Tigers and I was fortunate enough to have featured alongside some of the very, very best as a player,” added Murphy.

“Nemani certainly possesses the traits of a player that Tigers fans look for and if we didn’t believe he could come here and do for us what we know he’s capable of, we wouldn’t have signed him.

“I don’t think it will be long before we are hearing ‘Nadolo’ chanted from the Terrace at Welford Road.”

The 32-year-old’s signing comes after the recent announcement of signings Zack Henry and Shalva Mamukashvili, as well as recommitments from international duo George Ford and Ellis Genge alongside youngsters Tom Hardwick, George Worth and Sam Aspland-Robinson.

Speaking about the Tigers, Nadolo said: “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the club.

“Tigers is everything I’m looking for in a club … family first and the vision they have moving forward is something I wanted to be a part of.”

When asked about what Tigers supporters can expect of him, he said: “I can’t wait to roll my sleeves up and rip in.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and my family to come set up shop in your town.

“Hopefully I earn the respect of the fans by doing my talking on the field.”

Nadolo will link-up with his new Tigers team-mates in the summer ahead of the 2020/21 season.

The Tigers also announced the signing of Georgian international, Shalva Mamukashvii.

The 29-year-old has made 73 Test appearances for The Lelos since 2011 and represented his home nation at both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups.

Mamukashvili’s career began in Georgia as a 17-year-old with RC Kochebi, from where he was selected for the national side, before moving to Armia Tbilisi.

In 2014, he was signed by Sale Sharks and spent a season in the Premiership before stints in Scotland with the Glasgow Warriors and in France with Montpellier, Toulon and US Carcassonne.

Mamukashvili moved home to Georgia in 2018 to join Locomotive before linking up with Enisei-STM ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said the addition of Mamukashvili to Leicester’s front-row stocks was an exciting prospect.

“Shalva is a well-travelled, experienced young man who offers us a unique, exciting option in the front row,” said Murphy.

“This club has welcomed front-rowers from all over the globe and we’re confident Shalva can be another international success story for us at Tigers.

“Nobody plays 70-odd Test matches and for the quality outfits that Shalva has unless you are a hard-working, motivated professional and in the conversations and meetings we have had with him, we’ve seen that in spades.

“Supporters should be excited about Shalva’s arrival and what he will bring to this club, on and off the pitch.”

Mamukashvili added: “It’s a great club, a very historical club and one of the most successful in England and the Premiership.

“I am motivated to give 100 per cent and have a good season at Tigers. I am looking forward to it.”

Premiership

Newcastle Falcons sign former Ulster forward

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Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Former Ulster back-five forward Matthew Dalton has joined Newcastle Falcons on a two-year deal.

Standing at 6 foot 6 and weighing 115kg, the ex-Ireland Under-20s international is already on Tyneside, aiming to hit the ground running for the start of pre-season.

“I wasn’t supposed to start until July 1 but I had a bit of a chat with the coaches, and we thought it would be best if I came over early,” said Dalton, the 22-year-old who has played ten times for Ulster.

“I arrived a few weeks back and have been working hard with the strength and conditioning coaches. It’s a chance to meet everyone, see the lay of the land and put in some graft ahead of the start of pre-season. It’s been great so far, and I’ve made some big gains.”

A former international pentathlete for Ireland Schools, with high jump and hurdles as his stronger events, Dalton believes the Falcons’ high-tempo game will suit his own personal attributes as he strives to make his Gallagher Premiership breakthrough.

“I like to bring some speed to the game with the way that I play,” said the former Malone RFC man who has played mainly in the second row, with a handful of appearances on the blind-side flank.

“Looking at the pitch here and the way the Falcons go about their game, I think that could be a good fit.

“Coming into a Premiership team from the Pro 14 – there are definitely a lot of differences, but also a few similarities. Newcastle have got a very fit and dynamic pack, and with the style of rugby I play I think it will marry well.

“I’ve had a bit of time off to do some growing up and self-reflecting, and this is definitely a good move for me. I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity presented to me over these next two years, and I’m just incredibly glad how it’s worked out.”

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Matty is a real talent who is blessed with great athleticism.

“He has shown his work ethic by coming over early and laying the foundations for pre-season, and I’m excited about what he can bring to our squad during his time here with us.”

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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Premiership

London Irish centurion to retire

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(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

London Irish full-back Tom Homer is retiring from the sport with immediate effect following the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

Homer, who made 126 appearances and scored 785 points for the Exiles across two stints with the Club, has decided that it’s the right time for him to hang up his boots.

Tom had agreed a move to French side US Montalbanaise but has since decided his future is away from the rugby field.

“I suppose my love for life is now beyond the rugby field,” explained Homer.

“I’ve played rugby for 13 years now and have some brilliant memories, but it just feels like the right time to retire.

“There is something poetic about finishing at the Club where it all started. I’m looking forward to the next adventure.”

Looking back at his career, Homer chose not to reflect a particular match, try or conversion, but more so on those fellow players he has shared the pitch with.

“My first year at London Irish and getting to play in the Premiership Final was a massive highlight, but more than anything, I will remember the people that I got to share those types of experiences with,” he said.

“Thank you to all the people that have supported me during my career, you stuck with me through thick and thin. I really appreciate it.”

Declan Kidney, when commenting on Tom’s decision said: “We wish nothing but the best to Tom and his family in the future.

“He has had a fantastic career and should be very proud of everything that he has achieved. I know he will be successful in whatever path he chooses to do next, and I would like to thank him for his generosity, work ethic and friendship during his time at London Irish.”

Thank you for everything Tom. Good luck in your future – you will always be welcome at Hazelwood.

Source – London Irish Rugby

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Premiership

Wasps team to face Leicester Tigers as fans return to Ricoh Arena on Saturday

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Lee Blackett has named his Wasps side to host Leicester Tigers, in front of fans at Ricoh Arena, in the final round of the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday.

There are five changes to the starting line-up that won against London Irish last time out.

Malakai Fekitoa returns from injury to partner Michael Le Bourgeois in the centres.  

Josh Bassett will make his 150th Wasps appearance on Saturday, as he forms the back three with Marcus Watson and Rob Miller, who comes in for the injured Charlie Atkinson at full-back.

Jacob Umaga will also make his 50th Wasps appearance on Saturday, as he once again forms the half-back partnership with Dan Robson.  

The front row trio of Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor and Kieran Brookes line up for their final appearances in Wasps colours.

Will Rowlands also makes his final outing in Black and Gold in the second row with James Gaskell.

The only other change to the pack sees Sione Vailanu come in for the injured Thomas Young. Vailanu starts at number eight in his final Wasps game, meaning man-of-the-match from last week Tom Willis moves to blindside flanker and captain Brad Shields shifts to seven.

Amongst the replacements there is a welcome return to action for Alfie Barbeary. He is joined on the bench by Gabriel Oghre, Ben Harris, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Tim Cardall, Jimmy Gopperth, Juan de Jongh and Ben Vellacott, with de Jongh and Vellacott in line to play their last games for the Club.

Wasps team to face Leicester Tigers at Ricoh Arena on Saturday in Gallagher Premiership Round 22 (kick-off 3:00pm)

Wasps (First-team appearances)

15 Rob Miller (125)

14 Marcus Watson (51)

13 Malakai Fekitoa (36)

12 Michael Le Bourgeois (58)

11 Josh Bassett (149)

10 Jacob Umaga (49)

9 Dan Robson (136)

1 Simon McIntyre (183)

2 Tommy Taylor (90)

3 Kieran Brookes (58)

4 Will Rowlands (112)

5 James Gaskell (140)

6 Tom Willis (40)

7 Brad Shields (52) (c)

8 Sione Vailanu (31)

Replacements

16 Gabriel Oghre (45)

17 Ben Harris (79)

18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen (44)

19 Tim Cardall (29)

20 Alfie Barbeary (14)

21 Ben Vellacott (19)

22 Jimmy Gopperth (127)

23 Juan de Jongh (66)

Unavailable due to injury: Charlie Atkinson (Concussion), Lasha Jaiani (Pectoral), Zach Kibirige (Ankle), Joe Launchbury (ACL), Ryan Mills (Foot), Matteo Minozzi (Eye), Paolo Odogwu (ACL), Will Simonds (Groin), Sam Spink (Groin), Theo Vukasinovic (Achilles), Tom West (LCL/Hamstring), Jack Willis (PCL/MCL), Thomas Young (Hamstring).

Source – Wasps Rugby

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