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Rhys Webb speaks about his future after his family return home to Wales.

Big call from the Webb’s

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Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Wales scrumhalf Rhys Webb is having to say goodbye to his family as they return home after struggling to settle in France.

Webb signed a 3 year contract for French side Toulon in the summer which ultimately ends his international career as he has yet to reach the required caps to play outside of Wales and still represent his country.

The news was confirmed by Webb’s fiancée, Delyth Hewitt  in an emotional blog in which she confirms she will head back to Wales with their three children, Regan, 8, Jesse 3, and baby Remi. Webb will remain in Toulon further highlighting the pressures that players and and their families face when moving abroad.

In her blog she stated:

“Of course, there are moments where I have doubts: is this really a realistic idea? Leaving Rhys here and taking the boys back? But the truth is, I don’t really know what it’s going to be like.

“I know it’s going to be amazing being around family and friends again and it’ll be lovely to not have to stare blankly at someone who speaks rapid French to me in the supermarket or remember ‘passenger to pavement’ whenever I find myself driving on unfamiliar roads and my instinct is to come off the roundabout the wrong way (again). But it’s going to be horrible being away from Rhys.

“Now I’m ok with my own company, I’m a bit of a hermit anyway, and we’re only 7 hours door to door away, but still.. it’s that extra pair of hands around; the company you enjoy sitting in silence with after a long day of finding responses to satisfy Jesse’s constant intrigue; a different (and apparently more authoritative) voice for the boys to hear telling them to “LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE” or him being there take the boys outside to practice rugby drills in the garden. Either way, what we both know is that their happiness and their fulfillment is paramount, and we’re so so proud of the effort they and their friends have put in trying to adapt to their new lifestyle.

“So (in a few weeks) we go again, on another little adventure. Only this time to more familiar territory…..”

But Webb will stay where he is. He is in the first term of a three-year contract on the Cote D’Azur and says his commitment to Toulon will remain full-on.

“We made the decision for Delyth and the kids to go back to Wales because we thought it would be in the boys’ best interest,” said Webb.

“It hasn’t been working out for one of my sons, Regan, in particular, and when that happens you take action to improve the situation.

“I’m under contract with Toulon and I am going to do my best to make the new situation work.

Webb is unavailable to Wales and Warren Gatland under the rule that bars exiled players from featuring for their country unless they have 60 or more caps. But he isn’t thinking about that right now.

“Playing for Wales always meant a huge amount and I still feel sad that particular privilege has been put out of my reach,” he said.

“But it’s not something I can afford to think about at this point.

“Family issues are to the fore now and have to take all my attention.”

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

International

Koroibete Praises Cheika After Award Win

Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete claimed the top prize at Australian Rugby’s yearly awards, but caused a little stir after praising former head coach Michael Cheika

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(Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

Australian winger Marika Koroibete was awarded the John Eales medallist at the Australian Rugby awards last night and thanked former head coach Michael Cheika for helping him achieve the feat.

The award, which is handed to the country’s player of the year, was given to the electric winger last night after he saw of the likes of Samu Kerevi to be presented with the highest honour in the land. 

However, the former Rugby League star, who switched codes after Cheika suggested the move, paid a heartfelt tribute to the coach. 

“It’s such an honour to be named with all the great players who’ve won this medal before. I still can’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting this. Michael Cheika was the one who spoke to me. He’s the one who moulded me to be here wearing this medal. He didn’t force me to play early. He took his time and encouraged me, gave me things six months by six months, and this year I’ve been working very hard with the (Melbourne) Rebels coaching staff, they’ve supported me as well,” he said. 

Cheika brought the 27-year-old into the Wallabies camp in 2016, but waited almost a year to hand him his debut as he tried to blood him into his new surroundings. 

However, during his tenure as manager and since his departure there have been a number of players who have criticised the coach, although Koroibete continued to heap praise on his former manager as he showed his gratitude. 

 “(Cheika) is such a great man, he mingled well with the boys. I like him as a coach. He’s honest with you. If there’s something you need to work on, he tells you straight. He doesn’t beat around the bush. Unfortunately, he’s not here anymore,” he added. 

It is a big vote of confidence for Cheika, who is currently being linked with a position at French Top 14 giants Montpellier as he looks to get back into the game. 

Elsewhere on the night, Kerevi wasn’t to be denied an award as he won Super Rugby Player of the Year, while youngster Jordan Petaia, who only made his debut for the Wallabies during the Rugby World Cup in Japan received the accolade for Rookie of the Year.

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Gatland Suspected Wales Player of Doping

Warren Gatland has been full of chat after leaving his post as Wales manager, but has made his most interesting statement yet since his departure

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has admitted that he had suspicions that a player he used to coach while he was in charge of the national side was doping.

Speaking to Off the Ball, Gatland, who also discussed his comments regarding England in the lead up to the World Cup final, has claimed he had a notion that one of his former players was using performance enhancing drugs.

“You know I haven’t come across personally any players that I’ve coached from a Wales perspective that I would – well sorry, maybe one. Maybe one, now that I think about it,” he said. 

When asked about where he had coached this player, he didn’t give a definite answer but made it pretty clear that it was a Welsh international, but he made it clear that he had no proof of the claim so he couldn’t be certain about it. 

“He may have done, yeah. It’s probably a little bit unfair of me to say I had suspicions about one of them because I’ve got no evidence or anything like that. Because it’s kind of like just saying, ‘Is there a possibility?’… It was more like a couple of people making jokes sort of thing. And you go, ‘Oh is that…,” he added. 

It was a pretty big statement from the new Chiefs coach, with former Ireland international Neil Francis writing last week that maybe people should put an asterisk beside South Africa’s World Cup win due to there being a strong possibility that players were doping in his opinion.   

His claim was linked to the fact that Springbok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi had been found to be using performance enhancing drugs earlier this year, after breaking onto the scene recently as well as studies done in the country. 

However, Gatland’s suspicion will raise questions as to whether he was right and was this player an integral part of his time in charge, but for now we will just have to wonder who he is talking about.

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Steyn’s Rugby Career Could be Over

Double World Cup winner Frans Steyn could be set to call time on his career early following his latest triumph

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(Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Springboks great Frans Steyn looks likely to at least pull the curtain down on his European career in order to return to his homeland.

The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who managed to pick up medals from the 2007 edition of the tournament and this year’s one, beating England in both finals, is currently contracted to French Top 14 giants Montpellier. 

However, it is believed that he has held discussions with the club about ending his contract come the end of January instead of when it is supposed to expire in July and speaking to South African news-outlet Volksblad, he seems keen on settling down in his homeland. 

“Rugby has always been an inspiration for the Afrikaners, especially for farmers. If we had a bad week, if we watch good rugby on Saturday, then everything is better again. Only good rain, a good rugby weekend gives us the power to face Mondays again. It is a privilege that many farmers do not have. We know what to do in the future and what we need to have in place. We want to raise our children here and are attached to the rural feel that Bloemfontein offers. We want our children to have a good experience here as my wife and I had when one grew up here,” he said. 

The 32-year-old has a family farm in Bloemfontein and it is understood this is not the first time he has made the suggestion to return to the area, but it now looks more likely than ever that he will get what he likes. 

Steyn is expected to return to the French club next week, where he would play until January before his possible move back to South Africa. 

At this time it is unknown whether the back would continue his rugby career with local professional side the Cheetahs, who play in the PRO14, or whether he will end his career early, having played at the top level for such a long time already.

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