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Pro14

Connacht Update Ahead of Leinster Clash

Connacht have provided an injury update ahead of their PRO14 game with Leinster this weekend and head coach Andy Friend has also had his say on Paddy McAllister’s citing dismissal

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(Photo By John Dickson/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Connacht have been boosted on the injury front but still have less than 30 players to pick from for their game with Leinster at the RDS this Saturday according to head coach Andy Friend.

With Irish duo Bundee Aki and Jack Carty currently on a two-week mandatory lay-off, as well as three players undergoing the return to play protocols for HIA’s and 12 further squad members injured Friend has admitted that they haven’t even been able to put 30 men through training this week. 

“We had 28 today but that was with four academy boys and two other fellas who we have got here training. We are skinny. It’s not ideal but when we travelled to South Africa we travelled with 26 players. Whenever we are under 30 I just say ‘imagine we’re in South Africa’, because we had two wins over there against the Kings and Cheetahs,” he said while speaking to the42. 

However, there is a possibility that prop Paddy McAllister may be involved after his citing for a dangerous tackle during last weekend’s loss to Ulster was dismissed. 

He is currently under return to play procedure for a head injury, but if he comes through he should be able to play and speaking on the decision to dismiss his citing Friend believes it is not only good for Connacht but for the sport. 

“I think it’s brilliant news. I think it’s great for Paddy and for Connacht, but I think it’s actually good for rugby. I totally get that we need to protect the player, but we play a collision sport where accidents do happen. You can’t have two big guys running into each other, trying to hit each other with their heads. There is no future in that. But sometimes you get collisions when that just happens,” he added. 

He went on to defend McAllister and claimed that the player himself was upset over the possibility of people thinking that he had deliberately fouled Marcell Coetzee. 

 “I know Paddy was really remorseful for what happened and I know he spoke to Marcell post-game. He was disappointed that people were thinking that it was a deliberate act because that’s not Paddy McAllister. He’s a hell of a man, a gentleman in his own right. He is not a foul player. He was gutted that people were thinking that was deliberate. But there was a lot of work behind the scenes put in on his behalf,” he finished up. 

Friend will be hoping that McAllister will be available for selection come Saturday as his team take on the current PRO14 Conference A leaders, who have been in rampant form so far this season and can produce results even with a weakened team as they proved last weekend away to Munster.

Pro14

Scotland Ace Signs Contract Extension

One of Scotland’s key men has decided to put pen to paper on a new deal with his current club

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland lock Ben Toolis has signed a new contract with current club Edinburgh ahead of the Six Nations with the national side.

The 27-year-old is included in Scotland’s Six Nations squad and has 22-caps to his name at the moment. Meanwhile at club-level Toolis has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh since his debut in 2013. 

Speaking on the new deal Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill admitted he is delighted to have the Brisbane-born lock on board for the foreseeable future. 

“Ben is one of the most athletic locks in the league, while his ability and leadership at the lineout is key to the way we play. We are delighted to see him re-sign, and I’ve got no doubt that he will continue to be a big player for this club in the years to come,” he said to the club’s website. 

The length of the deal have not been announced, but it is a boost for both club and country as his stock continues to rise. 

Toolis will be hoping that he can continue his partnership with Grant Gilchrist in the upcoming Six Nations with the squad currently preparing to face Ireland in their opening game on February 1st.

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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. 

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Champions Cup

Connacht Set to Lose Big Star

Connacht look set to without one of their key men next season according to reports as he appears set for a move

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Connacht look as though they will have to deal without flanker Colby Fainga’a next season as he appears to be set for a move to French side Lyon according to Irish outlet the42.

They are reporting that the former Rebels man is the Top 14 side’s preferred replacement for the departing Liam Gill, who will leave at the end of this season. 

Connacht were keen to keep their players’ player of the year from last season and had entered contract talks to extend his deal past the original two years, but with talks stalling Lyon have come in with a reported offer of 300,000 euro a season which would be hard to refuse. 

The 28-year-old would be a huge loss to the western province having been such a massive influence since his arrival in 2018. 

However, more positive news for fans is that the back-rower is set to return from a knee injury this weekend against Toulouse, to help Connacht during a period where injuries have severely hampered them. 

It is understood that Connacht would like to replace Fainga’a with another overseas star, but for now they will hope to get the most out of the Aussie between now and the end of the season.

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