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Rugby Transfer Rumours

South African Star Heading for Japan

Another big South African name is going to Japan next season

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(Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

South African back Jesse Kriel is set to join the Canon Eagles in the Top League next season.

The versatile back will leave the Bulls in South Africa and head to Japanese shores come the end of the Super League season.

Speaking ahead of the move Kriel, who had a spell in Japan with the NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes, is delighted to be returning.

“I am extremely excited and privileged to be joining Canon Eagles. I have played in Japan before and it was an amazing experience. I am very excited to be returning to the Top League. I hope to make many more great memories on and off the field in Japan. I am very grateful to the Bulls and Springboks for their continued support and backing,” he said to International Player Management.

The 25-year-old is the latest departure for the Bulls, who currently sit second in the Super Rugby South African conference.

It was confirmed yesterday that Handre Pollard will be leaving the side to move to Montpellier next season.

As well as those two, Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman and Lood de Jager have all already confirmed their departures from the club who have signed deals over shores.

The nation and its clubs will have to figure out a way of competing with the lucrative deals and salaries that the likes of England, France and Japan are offering players or face losing more star names.

Pro14

Leinster Confirm 21 New Contracts but One Man Still Hasn’t Signed

Leinster have announced that a total of 21 contracts have been signed with the IRFU however, one players future is still up in the air

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(Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Leinster and the IRFU have confirmed that 21 players have signed contracts ahead of the 2019/20 season, but Rob Kearney isn’t one.

Following on from the announcement earlier today that Cian Healy has extended his IRFU contract until 2021, Leo Cullen has confirmed a further 20 player contracts have been agreed including already the already confirmed Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw.

“It’s a credit to the work that goes on in the schools and in the clubs that we are in a position to confirm 21 new contracts, with all but three coming through the system here. Over the last 20 months or so we have been able to hand debuts to nine academy players and they have deserved those opportunities. And now seven players that started this season in the academy will start next season as senior players,” said Cullen.

He went on to congratulate the younger players that have come through the ranks as well as welcoming back academy graduate Cian Kelleher from Connacht.

“I’m delighted for them and indeed their families and congratulate them on their promotion. We have been very happy with what we have seen from them all in the Guinness PRO14 and in some cases in the Heineken Champions Cup and we hope that they get many more chances in a Leinster jersey in the coming years. It’s also exciting to welcome Cian Kelleher back to Leinster. We have always kept a close eye on his progress at Connacht and it’s great that we can now welcome him back to Leinster and we wish him well in what is already a very competitive position in the team,” he added.

Kelleher returns to Leinster having joined Connacht in 2016, where he scored 14 tries in 54 appearances and is delighted to be back in blue where he will be reunited with younger brother Ronan.

“I’m incredibly excited to get back to my home province this summer and get started in an unbelievable set up in Leinster. It was an opportunity too good to refuse when it came up and I can’t wait to get started and compete in an extremely competitive environment. I hope to add to the incredible success the province has had in the last couple of seasons,” Kelleher said.

All the star names from the past few seasons remain contracted to the club along with youngsters such as Ciaran Frawley, Conor O’Brien, Scott Penny and Hugh O’Sullivan.

However, the most noticeable name missing from the list is that of Ireland international full-back Kearney who is yet to agree renewal terms on his centrally funded IRFU contract. There has been plenty of speculation regarding his future especially since Sean O’Brien, who leaves for London Irish this summer, posted an apparent parting message for Kearney on his Instagram.

For now, all focus will be on Leinster’s Pro 14 final against Glasgow on Saturday but after then there is no doubt that attention will swing back to Kearney’s situation once more.

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6 Nations

Leinster and Ireland Star Signs New Contract

One of Ireland’s key men has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Cian Healy has signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU to remain with Leinster and Ireland until the summer of 2021.

The prop is one of the country’s most consistent performers and is delighted to have the opportunity to continue representing both province and country.

“Pulling on a Leinster or an Ireland jersey is something that I have always taken a huge amount of pride in and I am thankful for every opportunity I get. I am delighted therefore to have extended my IRFU contract and to continue to line out for Leinster. I believe that we have built something special at Leinster and with the national team and I want to contribute as best I can to both teams in what will be a hugely exciting few months and years ahead,” he said.

Healy has faced a number of serious injuries over the years but has thanked everyone at club and national level for their support and looks forward to the future with both.

“There has been some difficult times over the last few years for me personally with injury but the support within the Leinster and the Irish rugby family was very humbling from fellow players, coaches and supporters and it’s something that I won’t forget. It made this decision all the easier knowing that I was part of something bigger than just a rugby team. I hope to play my part in helping Leinster and Ireland achieve further success over the next few years and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in that journey,” he added.

Having been capped by Ireland 88 times since his debut in 2009 and holding 207 Leinster caps to his name already Healy is almost ever-present and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora paid tribute to his consistency.

“Cian is performing at a very high level week in and week out. He works incredibly hard in ensuring that he is physically in the best condition to perform and has bounced back from adversity to return to the top of the international and club game. He will continue to be a leading performer for Ireland and Leinster over the coming years,” he said.

Healy has represented Ireland at two World Cups (2011 and 2015) and will be hoping to be heading to a third in Japan later this year, he also represented the British and Irish Lions in 2013.

As well as that Healy has a host of winner’s medals to his name with three Six Nations Championships in the bag for Ireland, while with Leinster he has won four European Cups, three Guinness Pro titles and a Challenge Cup.

Healy will be hoping to end the week on a high when he has the chance to add a fourth league title to his name as Leinster head to Celtic Park to face Glasgow Warriors in the Pro 14 final.

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Premiership

London Irish Confirm 10th Summer Signing Already

London Irish have announced the arrival of yet another new player

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(Photo credit MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)

London Irish have made their 10th signing of the summer already by confirming the arrival of Ruan Botha from the Sharks. 

The South African second-row, who has 64 Super Rugby appearances to his name as well as experience captaining the Sharks, joins on an initial six-month contract in which he will act as cover during the Rugby World Cup.

Once the six-months are up he will link-up with Japanese Top League side Kubota Spears before re-joining the Exiles for pre-season in June 2020 and preparing for the 2020/21 season.

Speaking ahead of the move the 27-year-old talked of how he delighted to be joining the club at a time when they are set to return to the Premiership.

“London Irish is entering an exciting period in its history and I am immensely proud to be joining at such an important time as they return to the Premiership. I look forward to meeting up with my teammates for pre-season,” he said.

Meanwhile, London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney is looking forward to the multiple qualities the massive lock brings with him.

“Ruan being available during the Rugby World Cup period is a major boost to us. He has a lot of top-class rugby experience and will also bring a lot more to the squad in terms of his leadership qualities,” he said.

Botha becomes the latest in a long list of stars to join the English outfit with Allan Dell, Adam Coleman, Sekope Kepu, Paddy Jackson, Sean O’Brien, Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona, Waisake Naholo and Will Goodrick-Clarke all signed up over the past few weeks. The club will be hoping that their good transfer work works a treat as they look to stay up upon their return to the top-tier.

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