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Pro14

Former Welsh Ace to Hang Up Boots

One of Wales’ former stars has confirmed that he will retire from rugby come the end of the current season

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Former Wales back James Hook has announced that he will be calling time on his professional rugby career come the end of the current season.

Hook is contracted to the Ospreys, but with his deal set to end at the end of the campaign he has decided the time has come to pull the curtain on a professional career spanning 16 years. 

“It’s sad but something I’m really looking forward to. It comes to everyone at some point and now it’s time for me. I’ve had lots of highlights, winning Grand Slam titles and Six Nations and going on the Lions tour in 2009. Then signing my first professional contract was a big moment for me. Growing up I always aspired to be a professional rugby player. You never think it’ll actually happen so when it did it really was amazing,” he said in a post on social media. 

The 34-year old picked up a total of 81-caps for Wales to go along with his 148 appearances for the Ospreys. 

As well as his time with the Welsh region Hook had spells at both Top 14 side Perpignan and English Premiership outfit Gloucester between his stints at the Ospreys. 

Hook has admitted he hopes to continue his rugby journey off the pitch, but that he is also looking forward to having more time to spend with his family after such a long time on the playing field. 

“I want to stay involved in the game, particularly working on the skills, like I do now with the young kickers and the age-grade sides, and I’m hoping to finish my level three coaching qualification. It’ll be nice to spend time with my family, my three young boys and my wife. It’s going to be sad not playing at the end of the season, but you’ve got to be positive and look on the bright side and I’m looking forward to what’s next,” he added. 

As well as his rugby career Hook has also written a series of children’s books that are set to be released later this year and that could provide him with something else to venture into if they are successful. 

However, for now he will be hoping that he can help the Ospreys turn around their disastrous season to date before he hangs his boots up for good. 

Pro14

Ludik Returns for Ulster’s Ospreys Trip

Ulster have named their squad to play Ospreys in the PRO14 tomorrow and star back Louis Ludik makes a return to action

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Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has announced his 23-man squad for tomorrow’s PRO14 clash with the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium at 17 15.

Star back-liner Louis Ludik makes a welcome return from injury to slot straight back into the starting line-up along with the likes of Robert Baloucoune, Stuart McCloskey and Billy Burns coming back in after being released from the Ireland squad by head coach Andy Farrell. 

In the front-row Eric O’Sullivan starts alongside Adam McBurney and Marty Moore, with Alan O’Connor captaining the side in Iain Henderson’s absence from the second-row beside Kieran Treadwell. 

In the back-row Matthew Rea is at blindside-flanker, with Sean Reidy at openside and Marcell Coetzee completes the forward pack from No 8. 

David Shanahan comes in at scrum-half, with Burns linking-up with him in the half-backs, and they have McCloskey and Luke Marshall outside them in the midfield duo. 

Ludik opens the game on the left-wing, with Baloucoune on the right and Matt Faddes finishes the starting XV from full-back. 

There is a huge amount of experience on the bench to call upon if needed with the likes of Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Bill Johnston and Craig Gilroy among the replacements. 

Ulster will be hoping to continue their fine start to the season and maintain their push for a top two finish in Conference A, while the Ospreys will be desperate for a positive result in what has been a terrible season to date as they sit bottom of the conference after 10 games. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below. 

Starting XV: 

Matt Faddes, Robert Baloucoune, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik, Billy Burns, David Shanahan; Eric O’Sullivan, Adam McBurney, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor (C), Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee

Replacements: 

John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Jordi Murphy, Jonny Stewart, Bill Johnston, Craig Gilroy

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Pro14

Leinster Go Strong for Cheetahs Clash

Leinster have named a strong squad to face the Cheetahs tomorrow despite many players being on Irish duty

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(Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced a strong squad to take on the Cheetahs in the PRO14 at the RDS tomorrow at 14 30.

Despite many of his players being away on Irish duty Cullen has been able to name a vastly experienced side with some youth mixed in. 

Among those included are players released by Ireland head coach Andy Farrell for this weekend with Ronan Kelleher, Will Connors, Max Deegan, Luke McGrath and Dave Kearney all being handed starting positions. 

Either side of Kelleher in the front-row are Peter Dooley and Michael Bent, with Ross Molony partnering captain Scott Fardy in the second-row. 

Rhys Ruddock will hope to keep himself in the frame of an Irish call-up with a good performance at blindside-flanker, with Connors at openside and Deegan completes the starting pack from No 8. 

McGrath comes in at scrum-half and links up with Ciaran Frawley in the half-backs, with Joe Tomane and Jimmy O’Brien outside them in the midfield. 

Dave Kearney takes up a spot on the left-wing, with Fergus McFadden on the right and Rob Kearney seals an experienced back three from full-back where he will hope to impress in the absence of Jordan Larmour. 

On the bench there is a mix of youth and experience too with the likes of Scott Penny and Harry Byrne joining Sean Cronin and Jamison Gibson-Park on the bench. 

Speaking ahead of the game lock Molony believes that even without the international stars the team can get a positive result. 

“The group is in a really good place, everyone can step up,” he said. 

Leinster will be hoping to continue their perfect start to the season with a 17th win in a row, but they know that it won’t be easy with the Cheetahs looking to remain in the play-off places in what has been a good opening to the season for them to date. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below. 

Starting XV: 

15. Rob Kearney (217)

14. Fergus McFadden (182)

13. Jimmy O’Brien (14)

12. Joe Tomane (19)

11. Dave Kearney (146)

10. Ciarán Frawley (22)

9. Luke McGrath (121)

1. Peter Dooley (73)

2. Rónan Kelleher (10)

3. Michael Bent (132)

4. Ross Molony (93)

5. Scott Fardy (55) (c)

6. Rhys Ruddock (169)

7. Will Connors (13)

8. Max Deegan (60)

Replacements: 

16. Seán Cronin (178)

17. Michael Milne (5)

18. Roman Salanoa (2)

19. Ryan Baird (4)

20. Scott Penny (11)

21. Jamison Gibson-Park (85)

22. Harry Byrne (6)

23. Cian Kelleher (12)

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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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