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New Zealand Star Signs Four-Year Contract Extension with a Twist

One of New Zealand’s key men has committed to the All Blacks but there is an interesting clause in his contract

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Two-time World Cup winner Sam Whitelock has signed a new four-year contract extension with New Zealand rugby but there is a catch to it.

The contract allows the influential lock to take a break from New Zealand rugby at the end of this year and play in Japan for Top League side Panasonic.

Whitelock has admitted that he considered walking away from the New Zealand set-up until the contract was put on the table.

“To tell you the truth, if you asked me a couple of months ago what we were doing, we were probably gone,” he said while speaking at a Crusaders’ press conference.

Whitelock went on to confirm that until the contract was agreed he had planned to stay in Japan after the World Cup and not return to his homeland.

“I thought we were just going to go to Japan and not come back to New Zealand. But full credit to New Zealand Rugby, they sat us down and we worked through some issues and we’re really happy with where we’re at now,” he added.

As well as facilitating the short-term move to Japan, which means Whitelock will miss the Super Rugby season next year, there is also a clause which enables him to call time on his career before 2023 if he feels the need to.

He confirmed that this clause was one of the key reasons why the negotiations worked out well in the end.

“So, if it’s too hard on family, or my body isn’t holding up, or I’m not enjoying it anymore. That’s when we can end it there. That’s one of the key things that flipped it around from going,” he said.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen, who is reportedly set for a move to Japan too once he steps down from his position after the World Cup, has spoke of his delight that Whitelock will stay on.

“Sammy is a very special player, an outstanding athlete, and has been a hugely respected leader in our group for some time now. Together with Brodie Retallick, he has been part of what we consider one of the world’s best locking combinations, but he is very much a world-class player in his own right. He’s a deep thinker on the game, cares passionately about the All Blacks and has done incredibly well in the handful of Tests which he has captained so far,” he said.

Hansen also noted that Whitelock’s achievements to date have been outstanding and is looking forward to seeing him continue his career as an All Black.

“Knowing that he has recommitted for four more years is huge for the All Blacks, the Crusaders and New Zealand Rugby. We’re all incredibly proud of what he has achieved so far in the jersey and look forward to the next four years,” he added.

Whitelock currently has 108 caps for the All Blacks and will be looking to add a third successive World Cup to his cabinet later this year while he is also hunting for Super Rugby glory with the Crusaders.

Check Out The Video Below to See Some of Whitelock’s Best Bits So Far

Credit: Og Fromtheisland


6 Nations

England team to face Scotland in Six Nations opener

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Ollie Hassell-Collins will make his England debut at left wing, Max Malins returns to the side at right wing and Freddie Steward is named at full back.

Owen Farrell captains the side from inside centre and is joined in the midfield by Joe Marchant. Marcus Smith is at fly-half with Jack van Poortvliet at scrum half.

The front row is made up of vice-captain Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler with Jamie George at hooker. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum start at lock, while Ben Curry makes his second appearance for England at open-side flanker. Lewis Ludlam and Alex Dombrandt complete the back row.

Jack Walker is in line to make his England debut after being named as a substitute, Anthony Watson could make a first England appearance since March 2021, and if Dan Cole comes off the bench he will earn a 96th Test cap.

Mako Vunipola, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs and Ollie Lawrence make up the remaining replacements.

“There are few fixtures in the rugby calendar that excite both players and supporters alike more than the annual Six Nations meeting of the Auld enemy as they battle for the honour of lifting the Calcutta Cup,” said Borthwick.

“Another packed Twickenham will witness the start of the next chapter of English rugby in one of the most keenly contested tournaments in the world. There is no doubt this England team shares the supporters’ sense of eager anticipation.

“To a man, the players are determined to play with the commitment, fight and desire that is at the very heart of representing England, the sort of passion that our tremendous supporters rightly expect.”

England Match Day Squad

Starting

15. Freddie Steward

14. Max Malins

13. Joe Marchant

12. Owen Farrell (C)

11. Ollie Hassell-Collins

10. Marcus Smith

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge (VC)

2. Jamie George

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Ollie Chessum

6. Lewis Ludlam

7. Ben Curry

8. Alex Dombrandt

Replacements

16. Jack Walker

17. Mako Vunipola

18. Dan Cole

19. Nick Isiekwe

20. Ben Earl

21. Ben Youngs

22. Ollie Lawrence

23. Anthony Watson


Images & Content from England Rugby
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6 Nations

Scotland name team to face England in 2023 Guinness Six Nations Opener

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Head coach Gregor Townsend has named his squad to face England in the opening fixture of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations this Saturday as Scotland bid to retain the Calcutta Cup.

Leading his side in the championship for the first time, blindside flanker Jamie Ritchie is joined at openside by Luke Crosbie, whose excellent recent form is rewarded with a second start for Scotland, with Matt Fagerson completing the back row.

In the second row, the experienced Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist, who is named as Vice Captain, resume a partnership that impressed during last year’s Autumn Nations Series.

Pierre Schoeman starts at loosehead prop in what is a 17th consecutive international since his 2021 debut, with the evergreen WP Nel – who reached 50 caps in November – selected at tighthead and George Turner named at hooker.

In the back division, scrum-half Ben White will link up with stand-off Finn Russell, a year on from his try-scoring debut in the Calcutta Cup at BT Murrayfield.

Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones are named as a centre pairing, the former having scored his first tries for Scotland in November’s win over Argentina, with the latter having notched no fewer than four tries against England in as many games against them.

In the back three, Scotland’s record try-scorer Stuart Hogg continues at full-back, with Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn lining up on the wings.

Townsend has selected a bench with a 5-3 split between forwards and backs, with Glasgow Warriors clubmates Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan and Jack Dempsey, alongside Jonny Gray, listed as pack replacements. George Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Harris complete the matchday squad as substitute options.

Scotland team to face England in the Guinness Six Nations opener on Saturday, 4 February at Twickenham, kick-off 4.45pm, live on STV and ITV

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps

14. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
12. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps

10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
9. Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 30 caps
3. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
4. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – Vice Captain – 59 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – Captain – 36 caps
7. Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps

Replacements

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
19. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
20. Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
22. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps

Tickets for Scotland’s match against Italy at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 18 March are still available HERE

Images & Content – Scotland Rugby


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Springboks’ 2023 fixture list locked in

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

The Springboks will kick off a bumper 2023 season against Australia in Pretoria in July in the opening round of the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship and will face Argentina in Johannesburg in their final match on home soil before the build-up to their Rugby World Cup defence starts.

In August, the Boks will travel to Argentina to take on the Pumas before facing Wales and the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in Cardiff and London in the final build-up to the global showpiece in France, which kicks off on the second weekend in September.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s charges will kick off the international season on Saturday, 8 July, with their opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, before travelling to New Zealand to face the All Blacks on Saturday, 17 July.

They will return to South Africa to wrap up their campaign against the Pumas at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg two weeks later, on Saturday, 29 July.

This will mark the first time since 2016 that the Boks host Australia in Pretoria, and the first time since 2013 that they take on Argentina in in Johannesburg, with South Africa having won both those fixtures, by 18-10 and 73-13 respectively.

The away match against Argentina is scheduled for Saturday, 5 August before they take on Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, 19 August, and a second Test against New Zealand at Twickenham on Friday, 25 August.

South Africa will launch their Rugby World Cup title defence on Sunday, 10 September, against Scotland in Marseille, which will be followed by pool matches against Romania in Bordeaux (17 September), Ireland in Paris (23 September) and Tonga in Marseille (1 October).

The Rugby World Cup quarter-finals will be played on the weekend of 14/15 October, with the semi-finals on 20/21 October and the final on Saturday, 28 October.

“Loftus Versfeld and Emirates Airline Park are iconic stadiums, and we thoroughly enjoy the fanatic support from the home crowds at these venues, so we are thrilled to start off what is a vital season for the team at these stadiums,” said Nienaber.

“These Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches are going to be crucial as we look to get our Rugby World Cup season off to a good start and playing against New Zealand away and Australia and Argentina on the highveld will be ideal for our preparation.

“All three sides will enter the international spectacle in France among a handful of teams that will be considered potential contenders for the title, so we are expecting a thorough test throughout the campaign.”

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus added that the match against the Pumas in Argentina ties in nicely with their RWC preparations: “Playing against Argentina in South America is unique as they have a very passionate home crowd that brings the best out of their team, so that environment will serve as good preparation for our team with an eye on the Rugby World Cup, especially after getting a taste of the atmosphere we can expect at the international extravaganza in our match against France in Marseille last November.”

Nienaber said the national coaches have been hard at work with their planning for the international season where they will look to build on an encouraging 2022 season: “The coaches have hit the ground running this year and we’ll continue to put in the hard yards as we attempt to ensure that we leave no stone unturned before the World Cup.

“We are on course in terms of finalising our planning for the season and we are excited about returning to the training field,” added the Springbok coach.

An announcement on the venues of the Tests in New Zealand and Argentina, as well as the Boks’ training camps will be made in due course.

Springbok 2023 fixtures:

Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
Saturday, 8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 17 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (venue TBC)
Saturday, 29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

RWC warm-up fixtures:
Saturday, 5 August – Springboks v Argentina (venue TBC)
Saturday, 19 August – Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August – SA vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)

RWC pool fixtures:
Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September – Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September – Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October – Springboks v Tonga (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)

Weekend of 14/15 October – Quarter-finals
Weekend of 21/22 October – Semi-finals
Saturday, 28 October – Final

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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