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Super Rugby

Waratahs Hooker Extends Stay

The Waratahs have been boosted ahead of next year’s Super Rugby campaign with one of their most experienced players committing to the franchise’s cause

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(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Waratahs hooker Damien Fitzpatrick has signed with the Aussie side for the 2020 Super Rugby campaign in what is another boost. 

It will be Fitzpatrick’s ninth campaign with the NSW, and he admits he is just delighted to continue playing for the team he loves.

“Playing for the Waratahs is what I truly love doing, so any opportunity to continuing to do what you love and are passionate about is something I’m grateful for. The unknown is exciting. A new-look squad under a new coach can bring endless possibilities and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for the Waratahs,” he said.

The 30-year-old left for three seasons with Lyon in 2013 and was part of the squad that earned promotion. He returned to the Waratahs in 2016 signing a two-year deal and has earned the extension due to his strong showings throughout this year’s campaign.

He will not play any National Rugby Championship matches however after agreeing to take a short-term contract overseas between now and the 2020 Super Rugby pre-season.

Fitzpatrick is the second experienced Waratah to extend their stay with the franchise this week after Wallaby Kurtley Beale signed on for next season too.

Both will be welcome re-signings with many players heading abroad for more lucrative deals including star names such as Bernard Foley and Sekope Kepu who are both leaving the franchise this year.

Rugby Transfer Rumours

Highlanders Sign All Blacks Youngster

The Highlanders have confirmed their first signing for the 2020 Super Rugby season

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(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have announced their first signing ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season with All Blacks Sevens and New Zealand U20 star Scott Gregory.

The 20-year-old has signed a two-year contract with the franchise and is so far only one of two confirmed outside backs in the squad for next season along with Josh McKay.

He has been a part of the New Zealand U20 World Championship squad for the past two years and played a vital role in the nations Sevens team during the 2018/19 World Series.

Having debuted for in the Mitre 10 Cup in 2018 for Northland and has become known for his speed and will be a welcome addition to the Highlanders following the mass exodus of players at the end of last season.

Come the end of the season the franchise confirmed that a total of 12 players would be departing them including All Blacks Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock and Jackson Hemopo.

As well as them there is a huge loss of Super Rugby experience in Matt Faddes who is set to join Ulster for the 2019/20 season.

Most of the players are heading overseas in order to receive improved contracts in what is becoming an increasing problem for Southern Hemisphere nations.

The Highlanders finished the 2019 season with a quarter-final loss to eventual winners the Crusaders and with all the departures it is expected that Gregory will be the first of many new faces through the door.

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International

Wallabies Star Signs New Contract

The Wallabies have secured the services of one of their key men until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup

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Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou has signed a new four-year contract with both Rugby Australia and Queensland Rugby Union.

Tupou nicknamed the ‘Tongan Thor’ has shone for both the Wallabies and the Queensland Reds in recent times and his new contract ensures that he will remain in the country until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The tight-head prop is delighted to have been offered the opportunity to continue on both fronts and believes the best is yet to come from him.

“I’m very excited to sign for the next few years. Queensland and Australia offered me the first opportunity out of school and I feel I have more to do to repay that faith. I only started playing consistently in the last two or three years, so I think there’s still more for me to offer in Australia for the Reds and Wallabies,” he said.

Tupou is almost certain to head to Japan when the World Cup squad is announced and is hoping to earn his right to wear the jersey long after the tournament, while he is also excited by the young talent that is coming through the Queensland system.

“We have a really good young group in Queensland who have been working hard the last few years and I know we’re heading in the right direction. I love playing for Australia. Obviously growing up as a kid, watching them, and now being able to pull on the jersey is an honour. To know that I will be here for the next four years is exciting because it means I may have the opportunity to pull on the jersey again if I continue to work hard,” he added.

Having made his debut for the Aussies in 2017 Tupou has gone on to impress at both international and domestic level, winning the Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2018.

It comes as a boost to the Wallabies who have been losing talent overseas recently, but after Saturday’s win over the All Blacks things could be on the up if more follow Tupou’s lead.  

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Super Rugby

Hurricanes Consider Overseas Replacement for Barrett

Beauden Barrett has left a huge void to be filled in the Hurricanes back-line and the franchise are looking at all options according to reports

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Beauden Barrett’s departure from the Hurricanes to the Blues has left the franchise with some pretty big shoes to be filled and they are considering overseas options according to the New Zealand Herald.

The report claims that although the franchise have out-halves in both Fletcher Smith and Jackson Garden-Bachop, they are looking for someone else and are “in conversations with several offshore options to replace Barrett”.

Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee spoke to the publication and refused to give a definitive answer as to whether the rumours are true and if anything added fuel to the fire.

“We’re very active in the market. Nothing to report – nothing is close – but we are very active in terms of conversations with players and agents assessing our options. We’d like to get that locked away sooner rather than later. There’s obviously speculation and when you’ve got quality first fives wherever they are in the world, there’s always going to be suggestions of if that player will go and take over from Beauden Barrett. That’s the world we live in – we’re in the market, so people will talk,” he said.

There have been several reports in recent weeks linking the Hurricanes with moves for the likes of Aaron Cruden, Hyden Parker and Lima Sopoaga. However, the Herald reports that none of the three stars are talking to the franchise.

The franchise may be looking for a New-Zealand qualified fly-half from an overseas club and there is no shortage if that is the plan.

Wasps duo of Jimmy Gopperth or Jacob Umaga would be good options, or French-based pair Colin Slade and Ihaia West to name a few.

However, Barrett signed his four-year contract due to the potential he sees within the Blues going forward and with him on board others at the franchise may look elsewhere.

If so then the Hurricanes may look to the Blues with the likes of Otere Black, Harry Plummer and Stephen Perofeta all vying for Barrett’s spot and could seek game-time with a new team and Barrett’s old side might be the perfect option.

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