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Pienaar Back at Montpellier but for How Long?

Ruan Pienaar has returned to Montpellier but there is no certainty that he will stay

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Photo by THIERRY BRETON/AFP/Getty Images

Ruan Pienaar has returned to training at Montpellier following his six-week compassionate leave following the death of his sister.

However, his future with the French side appears to be uncertain.

The former South African No 9, hasn’t played for the Top 14 side since their Champions Cup loss to Edinburgh in January and coach Vern Cotter has confirmed Pienaar needs to get back up to speed physically after his time away.

“Because he hasn’t done anything physical, his first aim will be to get back on form in the space of three weeks. Then if the team needs him he’ll bring all his experience with him,” he said.

In any case, there was a mid-season split among the team’s dressing room and the former Ulsterman was apparently involved. The team are also currently sitting in ninth in the Top 14 table, having gone all the way to the final last year.

With only six games remaining in the regular season and with Pienaar currently not up for selection it looks unlikely that he will play again this season.

All of this coupled with the fact that his contract in France running out next year it appears that the scrum-half may look at other options, with a return to the Pro14 on the cards as the Cheetahs are linked wit him.

Hopefully, the half-back will not only get back in shape but be back playing regularly with whatever team and back to his spectacular self.

Top 14

Zebo Expected to Extend French Stay

Simon Zebo appears set to continue his stay in France according to reports

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Racing 92 star Simon Zebo looks set to extend his stay in the French capital for another season according to Irish news outlet Independent.ie.

The 30-year-old has been at Racing for two seasons and has a clause to extend his time there to a third season if activated. 

Having impressed last season, the former Munsterman has had an injury-hit campaign this time around through concussion and breaking his foot, before the domestic and European season were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

However, when he has managed to play this season he has caught the eye and it is thought that the French giants are keen for him to put pen to paper on a new deal too. 

That would see the Cork native remain unable to add to his 35-caps for Ireland due to the overseas rules held by the IRFU, while it would also see him face a further challenge for minutes on the pitch with Wallaby ace Kurtley Beale appearing likely to join Racing in the summer. 

While a third-year in Paris seems set to be in Zebo’s short-term future, in the long-term it is unknown where he will end up, but admitted while speaking to Off the Ball yesterday that he would only return to Ireland to play for former side Munster

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Super Rugby

French Giants Eying Deal for Beale

Kurtley Beale could be set to leave the Waratahs for Europe this summer according to reports

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(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale looks set to leave the Waratahs for French Top 14 giants Racing 92 a report in the Daily Telegraph claims.

The 31-year-old has been key to the Super Rugby franchise and it would be a major blow to lose a player of his quality ahead of next season. 

However, despite the potential move across to Europe and Racing it would have no effect on his standing in the international set-up as he currently has 92-caps for the Wallabies to his name putting him well ahead of the 60 needed to be selected by an overseas player. 

With new head coach Dave Rennie coming in during the summer to take over from Michael Cheika it is unknown whether or not Beale will remain an integral part of the team. 

He was vital during Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign last year and with his versatility he will hope that Rennie sees him as an asset to his side. 

Although he is not the only Wallaby that is being reported to leave Super Rugby with Melbourne Rebels pair Matt Philip and Luke Jones also set to depart for France according to Fox Sport, with Pau their likely destination. 

All of these potential moves would be problematic for the Australian-based Super Rugby sides, who are struggling as it is and without star men sticking around the future looks bleak.

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International

Skelton Set for Summer Move from Saracens

Australian second-row ace Will Skelton looks set for a move away from Saracens this summer, but Rugby Australia won’t be happy with his choice of destination according to reports

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(Photo credit GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia appear set to miss out on bringing Will Skelton back to Australia once again with a move to France looking imminent according to reports.

The giant second-row has been a target for Rugby Australia since before last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, but he decided to remain in England with Saracens ruling him out of contention to feature for the Wallabies due to their overseas laws. 

However, they took another shot at getting his signature once Saracens salary cap scandal unfolded, believing it was the perfect opportunity to bring him home

Talks took place with the 27-year-old but reports in France are now claiming that a deal with French Top 14 side La Rochelle will be confirmed shortly. 

It would be another big-money move for the lock, but once more he would be unable to represent his country as he falls well short of the 60-caps needed for an overseas player to be eligible to be called-up. 

Failing to tie-down a star name like Skelton again would be a major blow for Rugby Australia and may cause them to consider altering their current rules around the Giteau Law as they are missing out on being able to select some of their best players because of it.

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