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Pro14

Fourie Aiming for Play-Offs with Cheetahs

Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie has set his sights on a play-off spot in the PRO14 this season but has pointed out the one area his team need to work on to get there

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(Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Toyota Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie believes his team should be aiming for a play-off spot in the PRO14 this season, but knows their away form must change to get there.

The Cheetahs are in Conference A this year along with the likes of Leinster, Ulster and Glasgow Warriors, but opened their account well with three home wins on the bounce only to lose their three away games that followed. 

The results have left them third in the table after the opening six rounds, and Fourie thinks that they should be competing in that area for the remainder of the season. 

“We are competing against three really strong teams for the three play-off places in our conference. Leinster are way out in front at the moment, but ourselves, Ulster and Glasgow Warriors are all very close together on the log. Only three of the four teams will go through. In the first season the Cheetahs played in the PRO 14 they won just one game away and lost just one at home and that was enough. But with those teams competing with us for places that probably won’t be enough this time. The way we see it we need to win four of five games away from home. And then we can’t afford to lose more than one or two at home,” he said. 

The South African-based side reached the play-offs during their first season in the competition due to their incredible home form, which saw them only lose one game on home soil throughout the whole season. 

However, as Fourie has stated that isn’t enough to get to the top anymore and he is hoping that his team can kick-start their winning run on the road when they take on the Ospreys this weekend. 

“This is definitely a good opportunity for us and we have noted that the Ospreys haven’t had a great season so far. But we know we still have to play well against them, and they may be better than their record suggests. Even though they lost, they played well against Munster (in the Champions Cup). They are a very good scrummaging team and their mauls are also really good. They are also a very disciplined team. They don’t concede many penalties, just eight a game, so you don’t get much opportunity to kick to touch to set up the lineout. You only get about 10 lineouts a game against them, and of course our lineout attack is one of our main weapons. We will have to play a lot from turn-overs and poor kicks,” he added. 

As mentioned above the Cheetahs are currently in third-place in Conference A, three-points off second-placed Ulster and two-points ahead of fourth-placed Glasgow. 

The Ospreys have had their struggles so far this season, but will hope, like most sides, that the return of some of their international stars will see them pick up points sooner rather than later. The Cheetahs will be aware that when stars return their opponents will become stronger, but Fourie and his team have a goal and if they can improve their performances away from home, who would put it past them reaching their target.

Pro14

RG Snyman On Joining Munster Rugby

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby’s summer signing RG Snyman spoke to the media remotely via conference call on Tuesday for the first time since joining the province.

The World Cup winner covered a wide range of topics, check out a few snippets from the press conference below.

Moving from Japan to Munster Rugby…

“The biggest reason I came here was coach Johann. I’ve worked with him in the past and I know the quality of coach he is.

“I haven’t worked under him that much before, even though I know him a long time. But I do know that he’s a quality coach. Speaking to anyone that has ever worked with him, it’s only positive [things that they say].

“I really enjoyed my time in Japan. From a career perspective, I thought it was a better move to come over to Munster and work under coach Johann to keep moving forward and keep improving.

“I still think I need to work on the smaller details from a technical side and working under him is great for that because he is very technical and his off-field work is very detailed.”

Adapting to European rugby…

“I think the rugby here in the northern hemisphere is very physical so I’m looking forward to that. Broadening my game a bit set-piece wise, that’s something I’m looking forward to as well.

“I think the weather will play a big part in the games. I’ve noticed the last couple of weeks at training that it’s not as easy to hold onto the ball as it is in South Africa or even Japan.

“I will have to adapt to it a little bit but I think it’s ok, I can work around it.”

Familiarising yourself in new surroundings…

“We have mainly seen the places around Limerick and we went to Dublin for a few days and I’ve actually seen the Aviva Stadium as well so it’s nice to see where we’re going later this month.”

Springboks team-mate Damian de Allende…

“I actually didn’t know he was coming as well [when I signed]! I’m very happy because he’s a great guy and he’s a hard-working player as well and I’m looking forward to seeing some good collisions from him.”

Watch our first interview with RG from last month below along with some highlights from his career so far below.

Video | Introducing RG Snyman

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Pro14

Connacht Rugby announce signings of Ben O’Donnell and Abraham Papali’i

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Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce the signings of Australian 7s player Ben O’Donnell and Bay of Plenty Number 8 Abraham Papali’i.
 
The pair will link up with the squad before the start of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 season.
 
Ben O’Donnell joins from the Australian Sevens programme, having played 95 matches for his country since he was handed his debut in 2017 under Andy Friend. The 24-year old went on to score 47 tries in that time and has been a key figure in their progression through the World Rugby Seven Series over the past three seasons.
 
O’Donnell was voted Australian Sevens Player of the year in 2018 and subsequently went on to be the first Australian player ever nominated for the World Sevens Player of the Year.
 
New Zealander Abraham Papali’i arrives from Bay of Plenty where he was a key member of the squad that won the Mitre 10 Cup Championship last year. The Auckland-born duel code player started his Rugby Union career with North Harbour before being recruited into the New Zealand Warriors (Rugby League) pathway. In 2015 Papali’i signed a two year contract with the Sydney Roosters of the Australian National Rugby League (NRL).
 
Following his time with the Roosters, Papali’i joined Lézignan Sangliers in the premier French Rugby League competition before the 6’4” number 8 returned to New Zealand and successfully restarted his Rugby Union career with Bay of Plenty.
 
Head Coach Andy Friend says today’s announcement is a significant boost ahead of the return to rugby.
 
“I am delighted to welcome Ben and Abraham to Connacht Rugby.
 
I got to know Ben very well on the Australian Sevens scene. It did not surprise me that he went on to become such an important player for them and I am thrilled that he has chosen to join Connacht.
 
Abraham is a powerful number 8 who has all the attributes to become a really valuable player for us while furthering our options in the back row. I know every Connacht supporter will be excited to see what he can offer.”

 
Friend expressed his excitement about the announcement and what the squad can achieve in the upcoming season.
 
“Today’s announcement comes on the back of discussions that started a number of months ago and we are delighted to eventually be able to share this exciting news with all of our supporters today.
 
These signings bring our squad up to 43 players for next season. We have freshened up and added depth to our squad in a number of key areas, having signed a healthy blend of young exciting players who have come through our Academy system as well as bringing in some additional quality and experience from further afield.
 
We are an ambitious group and I firmly believe we have all the tools we need to kick on to the next level and achieve success in what is going to be a really exciting season.”

Press Release from Connacht Rugby

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Pro14

Connacht raid Provincial rivals. 4 new signings confirmed.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Connacht Rugby have today confirmed the signings of Munster duo Sammy Arnold and Conor Oliver, and Leinster pair Jack Aungier and Oisin Dowling.

The quartet will become Connacht Rugby players from July 1st with Arnold, Dowling and Aungier penning two-year deals.

Irish international Sammy Arnold has made 44 appearances for Munster since joining the province from Ulster in 2016, scoring 8 tries in the process. The 24-year-old centre has been named both Ulster Academy Player of the Year and Munster Young Player of the Year, and made his International debut against USA in the 2018 Autumn Internationals.

Back row Conor Oliver has featured 28 times for Munster since making his debut in February 2016 and was named Munster Academy Player of the Year the following season. The 24-year-old can play on either flanks or as a number 8, expanding the coaching team’s options heading into the new season.

Oliver and Arnold both featured for Ireland in the 2015 World Rugby U20 Championship, who were then coached by current Connacht Attack Coach Nigel Carolan.

Jack Aungier made his Leinster senior debut last November and has gone on to make 5 appearances for the side in the current Guinness PRO14 season. The prop has also impressed at underage level, featuring for the Ireland U20s and U18 Clubs squad.

Oisin Dowling arrives from the Leinster Rugby Academy having played 6 times for the senior squad in the past two seasons. The 6’5’’ lock has also been capped at Irish U20 level.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Head Coach Andy Friend says all four players can make significant contributions to the squad ahead of the new season.

In Sammy, Conor, Oisin and Jack we have secured the signings of four very talented and promising young Irish rugby players. They each have unique skillsets which will enhance our squad for next season and beyond, and will allow us to continue to grow as a program. We’re all looking forward to welcoming them to The Sportsground and integrating them into our playing squad.

Press Release from Irish Rugby

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