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Blues Confirm Trio of Injuries

The Blues have confirmed that three of their players will be out of action in the coming weeks due to injury

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Super Rugby side the Blues have confirmed that three of their players picked up serious injuries during their 37-29 loss to the Chiefs over the weekend.

In what was their opening game of the new season things could hardly have turned out worse for the New Zealand-based franchise as they not only lost the game but have now lost star back Rieko Ioane, hooker Ray Niuia and prop Alex Hodgman for the foreseeable future. 

Ioane is the biggest loss to the team having starred during their defeat as he scored two tries at Eden Park, but he has fractured his hand and will now miss “several weeks” of action in what is a major blow. 

Meanwhile, things are even worse for Niuia who has sustained a knee injury that has ruled him out of the remainder of the season after just one game. While Hodgman is out following a calf tear during the game. 

In some more positive news for the franchise veteran hooker James Parsons could return from his own injury lay-off this week as well as Otere Black, with the duo hopeful of returning to action to help ease the injury-hit team. 

However, it is a huge loss to the team, but they will hope that they can manage to pull things together despite the set-backs when they face the Waratahs this weekend as they search for their first win of the campaign.

International

Leicester confirm signing of Springbok

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers will welcome World Cup-winning fly-half Handré Pollard to the club ahead of the 2022/23 season. 

The South Africa international will make the move to Leicester from French club Montpellier.

The 27-year-old has been capped on 60 occasions by the Springboks since making his Test debut against Scotland in 2014 while still a member of the South Africa Under-20s squad.

Pollard played youth rugby for Western Province, in Cape Town, while attending Paarl Gimnasium School and was selected for South Africa Schoolboys in 2012.

That same year, Pollard was selected for the Junior Springboks as an 18-year-old and remained in the squad for three successive seasons, captaining the age-grade national side in his final year. 

In 2013, Pollard moved to the University of Pretoria and represented UP Tuks while also making his provincial debut for the Blue Bulls in South Africa’s Currie Cup competition.

His Super Rugby debut followed in 2014 for the Bulls, who he would represent for the next five seasons, as well as a lone campaign for Japanese club NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in 2015/16. 

After playing in South Africa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup win, Pollard joined current club Montpellier. 

An accomplished goal-kicker, he has registered more than 600 points for the Springboks at an average of more than 10 points per Test.

He represented the Barbarians in 2018 and recently shared in South Africa’s series win over the British & Irish Lions.

Speaking about the addition of Pollard to the Leicester Tigers squad for next season, Head Coach Steve Borthwick said: “Handré is a world-class fly-half who brings with him a wealth of experience from Super Rugby, Top14 and international rugby.

“He is a World Cup winner who has been highly sought-after from clubs all over the globe. But, most pleasingly, he sees Leicester Tigers as the club for him.

“What has impressed me most in our dealings with him has been his desire to be a part of what we are building at this club but also his desire to develop, learn and grow as a player and person.

“This is a very exciting signing for the club and one I hope Leicester Tigers fans are excited about.”

Discussing his decision to join Leicester Tigers, Pollard said: “I am excited to join Leicester Tigers, to be a part of this great group of players at a special club and challenge myself, test my limits and be the very best I can be for the team.

“The club is going brilliantly at the moment and I know there is an expectation to continue that, to keep getting better because getting to the top is hard but staying there is even harder.

“There are bigger deals on the table, but I’ve made this decision to work with Steve [Borthwick] and to be a part of an unreal, great club at Leicester Tigers which has such a great history,” he added.

The Springboks fly-half also spoke of his excitement ahead of playing at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

“I don’t know the whole history of Leicester Tigers, but this is a club that is so well renowned worldwide,” he said.

“Everybody I have spoken to about playing there, for Tigers or an away team, say it’s the one stadium that is on another level.”

Pollard will link up with his new Leicester Tigers team-mates at the conclusion of international commitments ahead of the 2022/23 season.

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Super Rugby

Larkham To Return To Brumbies

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Picture Credit: Brumbies Rugby

Brumbies legend Stephen Larkham will return to the club as head coach for the 2023 and 2024 Super Rugby Pacific seasons.

Brumby 13, Larkham played 116 times in ACT colours from 1996 to 2007, winning two Super Rugby titles, and joined the club’s coaching staff in 2011.

Larkham began his first stint as head coach in 2014 alongside current assistant coach Laurie Fisher, becoming head coach in 2015 before departing after the 2017 season to take up a full-time role with the Wallabies.

The Rugby World Cup winner will continue in his coaching role at Munster in Ireland for the remainder of their season and will return to the Brumbies in July with Dan McKellar joining the Wallabies full-time at the end of the 2022 season.

Brumby 13, Stephen Larkham said: “It’s exciting to know I’ll be returning home to the Brumbies and to Canberra with my family after finishing up my time in Ireland.”

“Playing for the Brumbies as a Canberra local was obviously a special time in my life and the club were very supportive in my transition into coaching so I want to thank Phil (Thomson, CEO) and the Brumbies board for giving me this opportunity to come back and represent the club again as head coach.

“I’ve developed and learnt a lot both as a person and as a coach in these past couple of years, and I’m looking forward to bringing that experience back to the Brumbies to ensure their continued success.

“Moving forward for this season, I’ll be supporting the Brumbies as always from here in Ireland but my only focus now is on finishing off my time with Munster on a high.”

Brumbies CEO, Phil Thomson said: “This is a very good appointment for the Brumbies, and we’re delighted to be able to bring Stephen home to the club which he has served so well as a player and as a coach.”

“Stephen has been integral in the Brumbies history and while it will be difficult to replace Dan, having Stephen re-join to continue on his exceptional work over these past four seasons, five at the end of 2022, is fantastic for the team and the club.

“Through the recruitment process, Stephen proved to be the strongest candidate, and his appointment gives us an opportunity to continue the progress we have made on the field, and what we can add to that in 2022.

“Making this appointment now puts us in a position where we have certainty for the players, and it is also important that we have continuity and stability for our existing staff and the organisation moving forward.

“With this process now completed, the team and organisation can now fully focus on the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.”

Source – Super Rugby

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Rugby Championship

Fijian Drua confirm coach and initial signings

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Former All Blacks assistant coach Mick Byrne will be the first head coach for Fijian Drua in next season’s Super Rugby competition.

Byrne, who was part of the All Blacks’ World Cup-winning coaching team in 2011-15, specialised in kicking and taking of high kicks for the side. But he also worked as a skills coach for the Wallabies, Japan and Scotland, and he was an assistant coach with the Blues in 2012-14.

His appointment is for two-years.

Byrne said: “I have followed and admired the way Fijian teams play the game over my coaching career. It’s a style of play that puts the joy of rugby at its core, and I’m very excited to help our club showcase this to the world when the new Super Rugby season starts.

“None of us are under any illusions that it will be easy. We understand the challenges ahead of us in this first season based away from home.

“But within that challenge likes the opportunity to grow stronger as a team and club. It will allow us to be patient with our players, help them find their way and naturally grow into the game we want to play.

“It will be that brand of exciting Fijian rugby that our players and fans love, but with clinical aspects to it in both attack and defence. It will be hard work in our first two seasons but the journey will be rewarding and enjoyable,” he said.

Fijian Drua interim chief executive Brian Thorburn was delighted to secure Byrne.

“He is a seasoned professional and shone through the intensive selection process by displaying real passion for the club and Fijian rugby, and by outlining solid plans for success both on and off the field.

“Mick prioritises maintaining a respectful and cordial relationship with players, staff and partners, which is particularly important for us.”

Also confirmed in the coaching unit is Fiji’s Sevens sides strength and conditioning coach Nacanieli Cawanibuka who will be the head of athletic performance.

“His work ethic, discipline and commitment is world-class,” Thorburn said.

Cawanibuka shared in Fiji’s two Olympic gold medal Sevens wins and several World Sevens titles.

On the playing side Olympic gold medalist Ratu Meli Derenalagi, a former Fiji Sevens captain, has signed with the side along with wing Vinaya Habosi, prop Meli Tuni, utility back Serepepeli Vularika and Tasman Mako forward Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta.

They join five players named in the initial signings: Olympic gold medalist and utility back Napolioni Bolaca, hooker Tevita Ikanivere, wing Onisi Ratave, who is playing for Bay of Plenty in the Bunnings NPC, loose forward Nemani Negusa and halfback Simione Kuruvoli, who played for Fiji against the All Blacks in the July Steinlager series.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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