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International

All Blacks star ruled out of World Cup with ACL injury.

Huge loss for not just the All Blacks but for the Rugby World to miss out in seeing his talent being showcased.

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All Blacks and Chiefs utility Damian McKenzie has been ruled out of the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a knee injury.

Coach Steve Hansen, spoke to the media at the All Blacks first “foundation day” in Wellington. He confirmed that the 23-year-old ruptured his ACL in his right-knee playing for the Chiefs against the Blues on Saturday night.

“Yeah he’s he’s done an ACL so [it] looks like he could be out for eight to nine months, which is a real shame for him,”

“His World Cup opportunity is gone [but] he’ll still be young enough to make probably the next two.

“It’s just important that he gets his knee right and takes his time to come back and achieve the dreams that he wants to achieve.”

Hansen said it was sad for McKenzie, “but it creates another opportunity for somebody else we’ve got to expect injuries and there will be more than just him when we finally name the team to go to the World Cup

“Our task is finding someone else to fill his role and his task is getting the knee right to be able to play the game.”

Hansen said the All Blacks are not short of options as they still had Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga as first five-eighths options while Ben Smith and Jordie Barrett have the ability to cover fullback.

McKenzie left the pitch on the 41st minute in Hamilton after clashing with Blues Fly-Half, Otere Black.

A scan confirmed the extent of the injury that will see McKenzie out of action for around 6-9 months.

With the World Cup just shy of 5 months away, the door has been opened for another Out-Half to join Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga in the All Blacks squad.

Losing McKenzie is a huge blow for the All Blacks, having earned 23 caps to date he provides Hansen with an option at 10 & 15 and also give him another reliable goal-kicking option.

Hansen did deliver some better news regarding injured All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams and flanker Sam Cane.

He said Williams “had his knee trimmed up” and Hansen was confident he would come back.

“Many people come back from cartilage injuries so that’s not a concern but if he gets back and plays four or five games, bingo, he’s going to play some good footy we saw the other night he played well.

Cane has resumed light contact training with the Chiefs after breaking in his neck in the All Blacks’ test against South Africa in Pretoria last October.

“He’s back into contact which is wonderful news and he’s just got to take his time there. I’m sure Coops [Chiefs coach Colin Cooper] and his team will bring him back when they think he’s ready.

“What is important is he comes back when he is ready and he is confident. Coming off an injury like that there is a lot of confidence and mind [issues] that you have to come through as well as the injury side.”

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6 Nations

World Rugby Gives Deadline for Nations Championship

World Rugby have given the 10 unions from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship a final deadline to decide on the Nations Championship

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World Rugby have confirmed that global rugby chiefs will have until Friday to decide whether or not the Nations Championship plans will be backed

The governing body has given the unions of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship nations until the closing of business on Friday of this week to provide a yes or no answer towards their new plans.

For their plans to be progressed World Rugby needs a unanimous decision from the 10 unions.

If that is to happen, they plan to launch their new format in 2022, with winners of the Six Nations and an expanded six-team Rugby Championship going head to head.

The final proposals of the Nations Championship will have to be passed by a vote of the full World Rugby council, however none of this will go ahead unless there is backing from the 10 nations.

Proposals have included creating two-tier tournaments for the Six Nations and Rugby Championship which would include the possibility of relegation or promotion.

A format which Six Nations unions appear to dislike.

As well as this there is the issue of the Pacific Islands, who believe that the creation of such tournaments would mean that they would be less likely to face the top nations in November and therefore be unable to develop as they currently are.

Whatever is to happen will become clearer in the next couple of days and it could be the start of a new era for international rugby.

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International

Offer Kerevi Turned Down was “very, very good”

Wallabies’ director of rugby Scott Johnson rues the loss of one of the nation’s star players

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Wallabies’ director of rugby Scott Johnson has admitted that Rugby Australia did all they could to secure the services of Samu Kerevi.

The 25-year-old centre has starred for both club and country but turned down a contract extension with both and will move to Japan following the conclusion of the World Cup later this year.

Johnson, who was speaking at a Melbourne Rebels function ahead of their final regular season game of this year’s Super Rugby, is disappointed that Australia has lost a key player in their prime.

“Let’s get it straight, the offer was good. I’ve seen the offer that Samu was given and it was a very, very good offer that would have put him in the higher echelons of our country,” he said.

The decision to leave by the 23-capped Aussie is also due to off-field matters and Johnson knows that it is complicated.

“It’s not perfect for him and for us and we understand there are issues away from the game for him. It opens the door for other players who we may be talking about in a different light in 12 months’ time,” he added.

Kerevi becomes that latest player to head overseas to play their trade, and he is well below the 60-cap requirement needed for such players to represent the Wallabies, but Johnson stands by the law.

“I think the key component is that we have a responsibility to make sure our competition is the best in the world. It’s great to be able to control the player – their strength and conditioning and their skill development. We understand there are challenges but at the moment we think there’s a nice mix of rewarding longevity,” he finished.

However, former-Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock, who was also at the function, believes that Rugby Australia needs a serious change, or it will face massive problems in the future.

“It’s a massive challenge and if we don’t get our house in order in four years’ time, we will have to change the eligibility rule because you might have a lot of players not in Super Rugby. It baffles me that we still haven’t got our house in order with everyone pulling in the same direction. We’ve got still different factions in different areas looking after their own backyard and that’s what’s stifling us. The New Zealand model is all about creating great All Blacks and everyone club and player knows that, but it doesn’t happen in this country,” he said.

Wallabies fans are certainly not pleased by the loss of Kerevi and Rugby Australia will need to do something soon to ensure that key players stay with them in the future.

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International

Jones to Stay with England Post 2021?

Eddie Jones has committed his future to the England national team but how long will he stay for?

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New RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has admitted that England head coach Eddie Jones could stay beyond his contract which runs out in 2021.

Along with this Sweeney announced that assistant coach John Mitchell has signed a contract until 2021 also, which had been reported earlier by the Telegraph.

The move for Mitchell is to coincide with Jones’ contract according to Sweeney.

“We have extended John Mitchell’s contract through to be consistent with Eddie’s, so it goes through to June of 2021. That was in full consultation with Eddie. He and I spoke about it about five, six weeks ago maybe. It is part of Eddie’s long-term coaching structure plans. So we entered into negotiations with John, he is keen to stay and we concluded the agreement about three weeks ago. He is contracted now through to June 2021,” he said.

Mitchell joined Jones’ set-up just before the Red Roses Autumn internationals and has overseen a positive turn in results since.

Sweeney continued on to say that Jones could potentially remain at the helm after his current contract runs out.

“It is possible, we are not looking at that at this stage. The focus now is really on the World Cup and then making sure we get our plans in place post World Cup. Eddie has reconfirmed his commitment through to 2021. We have lots of conversations on that and he has said he wants to stay through to the end of that contracted period. So, from that perspective we’ve already started conversations around what will the structure and look of that coaching team be coming back from Japan,” he added.

Although Mitchell has extended his contract there are several others in the coaching set-up of England that are yet to commit, and Jones is looking at candidates to sign up according to Sweeney.

“He has got a number of names in the frame. We haven’t approached them yet. We wouldn’t contract anyone pre-World Cup. But he has got in mind how he would like to structure that as soon as we get back. We would confirm it immediately as soon as we got back,” he continued.

If speculation is to be believed then Mitchell’s extension could be part of a plan for him to eventually replace Jones as head coach of the English team, however, for now Jones will stay in charge.

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