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Pro14

Cardiff Confirm Contract Extension of Star Player

Cardiff Blues have been able to seal the services of a key squad member for another season

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Nick Williams has been able to remain with the Cardiff Blues for another season after a meeting with the PRB/RMB.

It was feared in recent weeks that the No 8 would be unable to continue his stay with the club as the Welsh Rugby Union blocked his extension, but it seems as though common ground has been found.

Since his arrival in 2016 from Ulster, the 35-year-old has become one of the most influential players on the team and Cardiff Blues’ chief executive Richard Holland is delighted that he is staying on.

“We are thrilled to be able to retain the services of Nick, a player who has become such a key figure within our environment. Anyone who has watched Cardiff Blues this season, and most recently Judgement Day, will have seen he is still producing the goods on the pitch but on top of that, he brings an enormous cultural benefit to the entire environment. He will now continue to play a key role in mentoring and developing young Welsh talent,” he said.

As Holland mentions one of the terms of his extension is that he will help with the development of younger players in the squad and Holland hopes that this could see a long-term position open up for Williams.

“We would like to thank PRB for their support throughout the process, which has culminated with a positive outcome for Cardiff Blues and our strategy to develop young talent from within, which is ultimately for the betterment of Welsh rugby as a whole. Nick embodies all of the values we want at Cardiff Blues and this mentoring role has the potential to become something more long-term,” he added.

Williams, who has settled in Barry with his family had previously spoken of his love for the area and his desire to remain in Wales and is excited that he can continue with the club.

“I’m very happy and blessed to be able to go again. I spoke to my family and they were all supportive, so I told John in November-time that I was keen to stick around. The body feels fresh, mentally I feel good and it all seems to be working for us so I’m happy to get another year. After winning the Challenge Cup I thought it was a good way to go out but I didn’t really think about what I could give back to rugby, particularly in regards to bringing young guys through. I have a good relationship with the boys. I’m a bit more kicked back and relaxed compared to some of the other boys. I like to lead with action and hopefully the boys follow,” he said.

Williams is also excited with his role in aiding with the development of younger players and has promised to give his all for the region.

“I really rate the young boys in the squad. We have a good group, who have come through together and are very tight. Hopefully I can help them develop and if they stick together the future is really bright both for Cardiff Blues and the individuals. I also like to think I’ve also been playing some decent rugby. We have a recipe here that works. Cardiff Blues look after me through the week and I pay them back by giving 110 per cent on the weekend. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to keep playing here,” he added.

The No 8, who has scored 12 tries in 66 appearances, is as good in defence as he is in attack and head coach John Mulvihill is happy that he will have his presence on and off the pitch next season.

“It is great to keep Nick at the Arms Park. He brings a physical presence every time he takes the field and still has a huge amount to offer. Off the pitch he is an invaluable mentor to the likes of Jim Botham, Alun Lawrence and Shane Lewis-Hughes. We have further announcements to make in the coming weeks and will continue to strengthen our squad where possible,” he said.

The Welsh outfit have been working well to keep players at the club as well as Williams with other star men Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Rhys Gill and Willis Halaholo all signing new deals. Along with them are the new signings of Welsh duo Hallam Amos and Josh Adams, all of which makes the Blues an exciting prospect already for next season.

6 Nations

Scarlets provide updates on Williams & Owens

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(Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Liam Williams has recovered from a foot injury that has prevented him playing for the Scarlets so far this season. He has been released from the Wales squad to train with the Scarlets ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Benetton.

Ken Owens has undergone surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained against Glasgow and it is expected he will be unavailable for three to four months.

Josh Macleod has started his rehabilitation for a hamstring injury sustained against Glasgow. He will be targeting a return to play in December.

Scarlets also confirmed that Sam Lousi has been banned for a period of four weeks as a result of his red card in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Glasgow Warriors.

Lousi was shown a red card by referee Frank Murphy (IRFU) under Law 9.13 – a Player must not tackle an opponent early, late, or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling, or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulder even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.

The disciplinary hearing was handled by Roddy Dunlop (Scotland) and it was accepted that the player’s actions warranted a red card for foul play. The incident was deemed a mid-range offence, which carries a six-week suspension.

Due to the player’s previous disciplinary record (red card for punching incident, February 2020) the judicial officer could not offer full mitigation therefore, resulting in a four-week suspension.

Lousi is free to resume playing from midnight on November 9, 2020

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Pro14

Marcus Rea to start for Ulster v Ospreys

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Marcus Rea will make his first start for Ulster on Saturday evening, in the Guinness PRO14 Round 2 trip to play Ospreys at Liberty Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm). 

The 23-year-old – who was Player of the Match in his sole previous Ulster appearance as a replacement against Leinster in April 2019 – has been named at openside flanker. Marcus’s older brother Matty – Player of the Match in last weekend’s bonus point win over Benetton – is named alongside him at blindside, with Marcell Coetzee once again packing down at number eight. 

Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and Marty Moore have been given the front row starting berths, and Alan O’Connor has been selected along with captain Iain Henderson in the second row. 

Matt Faddes returns to the starting side on the right wing and will join Jacob Stockdale at full-back and Rob Lyttle on the left wing. Last week’s midfield duo of Stewart Moore and James Hume has been retained. Ian Madigan comes in to start at fly-half, pairing with John Cooney at scrum-half. 

The coaching team has opted for a 6-2 bench split. Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones and Sean Reidy provide the forward options, with David Shanahan and Louis Ludik offering back line cover.  

Ulster team to play Ospreys Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 2, Saturday 10 October 2020, at Liberty Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, live on Premier Sports):   

(15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Ian Madigan, John Cooney.  (1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.) , Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Marcell Coetzee.  Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Louis Ludik, Sean Reidy. 

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Pro14

Munster confirm COVID-19 case. Training suspended.

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby have been assisting a senior player who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The latest PCR testing carried out on Monday at the HPC has returned a positive result for a player who is asymptomatic. To remove any doubt of a potential false positive the player will be retested tomorrow.
The individual, who was not part of the travelling group at the weekend, and six other players identified by Munster Rugby as potential close contacts, are currently self-isolating.

This approach of identifying possible close contacts is in line with the caution we have taken to this issue, these players may not be deemed close contacts by the HSE.

As a precautionary measure, the squad and academy will not train at the HPC today.
The HSE have been notified for contract tracing purposes.

Further PCR testing will take place tomorrow at the HPC with a return to scheduled training planned for Thursday ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 encounter against Edinburgh at Thomond Park.

Munster Rugby Head of Medical, Dr Jamie Kearns, said: “As an immediacy we are taking every precaution by standing down training today.

“We are going to complete another round of PCR testing tomorrow so that we can return to training on Thursday.

“Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff, and we will continue to work closely with both the IRFU and HSE in this regard.”

Statement from Munster Rugby

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